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MEMORIALS 



OF 



MRS. HENRY WOOD 



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MEMORIALS 

OF 

MRS. HENRY WOOD 



BY HER SON 



CHARLES W. WOOD 




LONDON 

RICHARD BENTLEV &. SON, NEW BURLINGTON STREET 

pibli^ns in ^rliinare to )^rr M^tBtfi tlir Sntm 

1894 

A II rights rtsttvtd 



I 

\ 



DEDICATION 

More than twenty years ago we published^ anonymously^ a 
work with the following Dedication : 

'STo tng iiHfltfjer; 

* FOR WHOSE SAKE I WILL HOLD THE WORLD GOOD' 

To-day we would repeat this Dedication with greater 
knowledge and experience ; but it can only now be inscribed: 



** Dear friend, far off, my lost desire, 

So far, so near in woe and weal ; 
O loved the most, when most I feel 
There is a lower and a higher ; 

** Known and unknown ; human, divine ; 

Sweet human hand and lips and eye ; 
Dear heavenly friend that canst not die, 
Mine, mine, for ever, ever mine ; 

** Dear friend, past, present, and to be ; 

Loved deeplier, darklier understood ; 
Behold, I dream a dream of good, 
And mingle all the world with thee." 

" In Memoriam. 



>» 



PREFACE 

The following Memoirs of Mrs. Henry Wood have been com- 
piled from notes, from fragments of diaries, from memory. 
They are the result of many a conversation, many a story, many 
a reminiscence, never to be forgotten whilst life remains. 
Above all, they are the fruit of a life-long companionship; a 
similarity of tastes, a closeness and unity of occupation ; an 
intimacy between mother and son perhaps never exceeded. 

This companionship was constant; until, when childhood 
and youth passed into manhood, it was only broken by the 
occasional absences which belong to the changes and chances 
of life. Sweet was the converse, charmed the hours, perfect 
the union, where all thoughts were outspoken, and no shadow 
came between : a delight and an influence nothing else has 
approached. Through those long years she loved to dwell 
upon her earlier life. Hours of conversation, oft repeated, 
made that past, in which the writer had no part or lot, familiar 



viu MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

as though he had been ever present, and all had been a 
personal experience. 

A lengthier record might have been given of the deeds 
and words of a strangely beautiful life ; but length would avail 
nothing. The records in their brevity are but a faint reflection 
of Mrs. Henry Wood; multiplied, the reflection would still 
be faint. 

In one respect some of the finest traits of her character are 
revealed in the very absence of such materials as the biographer 
finds most available and most effective. It never struck her to 
accumulate records, deeming that some day the world would 
wish to hear about her life. She did not with this view 
systematically keep journals, nor did she preserve the letters of 
others or retain copies of her own letters. So far as such 
elements are concerned, these Memorials may be found want- 
ing : but the writer has named his work Memorials rather than 
a Life or a Biography ; and he has aimed rather at giving some 
suggestion of the spirit in which she lived and worked than at 
presenting a formal and detailed memoir. 

If he has failed, despite the disadvantages he has had to 
contend against, the blame must lie with him and not with the 
subject ; for it is certain that few have equalled her in high 
ideals and fulfilled endeavours, as few have approached her 
in the unobtrusiveness of her ways. The narrative is a simple 



PREFACE ix 

Statement of the quiet annals of many years, neither humorous 
nor pathetic, and without exciting elements. Eminently wise and 
great as she was, equally did she excel in directness of motive, 
in modesty and humility; so that only those who knew her 
best were aware how closely she was allied to all things lovely 
and of good report ; how almost flawless was the jewel that 
threw on all around its rays of sympathy and compassion ; 
thus unconsciously leading many to those Paths of Peace she 
knew so well, and in which she was ever found. 

Something of this is recorded in the following pages ; but 
the result is as imperfect as the description of a brilliant sun- 
set falls short of the beauties of light and colouring actually 
seen. Yet it is a memorial wreath — a last offering — humbly 
and reverently placed upon the tomb of one who was, for the 
writer, ever without peer and without parallel, sans peur et sans 
reproche^ from the first remembered impression until the 
moment when 

'* Her life, a white perfumed blossom, 
Sprang to Heaven." 



CONTENTS 



PART I 

CHAPTER I 

Date of birth — Earliest impressions — Under Cathedral shadows — Mr. 
Thomas Price — Mistaken vocation — Mental power — Gentleman of the 
old school — In the house of the grandmother — Ecclesiastical influences 
— The College boys — Mrs. Tipton — Self-will — Consequences — Terror 
and extremity — Providential escape . . . Pages i-io 

CHAPTER H 

Childhood — Favourite study — Death of grandfather — Change of home — 
New life — A good man and true — Quiet influence — Fatal want of 
ambition — Spiritual life — College cloisters — " Miserrimus " — In 
sound of sweet bells — The grandmother's early training — Artistic 
temperament ...... 11-20 

CHAPTER III 

Mrs. Thomas Price — Opposite natures — Devotion to the old home — Study 
a refuge — Father and daughter — A tyrant — Narrow escape — Seeing a 
ghost — Dreamer of dreams — Dream fulfilled — Mrs. Benson — Paradise 
Lost — Evening of Life — Canon Benson — Influence in preaching — 
Ideals ....... 21-32 

CHAPTER IV 

Early lessons — Failing health — Singular beauty — Powers of observation — 
Whatever is, is best — Comparison — Singular resemblance between 
Miss Mitford, Mrs. Barrett Browning, and Mrs. Henry Wood — ^Julia 
Kavanagh — Her charming nature and strange death . 33-42 



xii MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 



CHAPTER V 

Early troubles — Opening of British ports — Losses — Reading the classics — 
Changes — Personal influence — Marriage — Going abroad — Mr. Henry 
Wood — Mental power — Coincidences — Walking the hospitals — 
Great linguist — Conservative principles — Illness and death of little 
daughter — A faithful nurse — Sad vigil — Mesmeric influence. 

Pages 43-54 

CHAPTER VI 

Joachine — Marrying in middle age — Village oracle — Crossing the Channel 
— Ministering to vanity — Rural levies — A state reception — Quaint 
cottage — ^Joachine's picture gallery — Le cousin Pascal — A long journey 
— Model French village — A village philosopher — Life's partings — 
Vale ....... 55-68 

CHAPTER VII 

A foreign land — Days of transition — Alpine home — Savoie — Days of post- 
ing — An early breakfast — Paradise — Silk factories — Last day's journey 
— Sunrise in the Alps — The eternal silence — A digression — Charmed 
hours — Sympathy with joy and sorrow — Enduring to the end 69-80 



CHAPTER VIII 

The new life — Happy days — Madame de Marseine — Going to market — 
Magic of sunshine — Tyrant housekeeper — Old Venus — A devoted 
slave — Changes of scene — Alpine chateau — Whispering pine-trees 
and blue skies — Gorgeous sunsets — The nightingales — Visions of 
Paradise — A " rapture of sound " . 81-88 



CHAPTER IX 

Madame de Marseine — The Revolution of '93 — Charlotte Corday — Two 
heroines — A comparison, and a prophecy — Exchanging visits — 
Happy recollections — Pine forests — A perfumed atmosphere — Still 
the nightingales — A fairy vision — Days and nights of melody — 
Haunted groves — Southern skies and stars . 89-100 



CONTENTS xiii 



CHAPTER X 

Chamb^ry — Les Charmettes — Aix-les- Bains — Pleasant customs — Lac du 
Bourget — A world gone by — Roadside encounter — Happy Rosalie — A 
modem Phyllis and Corydon — Marius — Village tragedy — The old 
mother — Extremes meet — Sympathy and encouragement. 

Pages I0I-II2 

CHAPTER XI 

"Bon voyage" — Les Gorges du Fier — Solitude and rushing torrents — A 
simple folk — Wars and rumours of wars — Gathering ferns;— Pleasant 
lingerings — Annecy at sundown — A chateau in the hills — Utopian 
views — Another victim — Picnics on the lake — Mountain excursions — 
Partings ...... 1 13-120 

CHAPTER XII 

Vivid impressions — Spring days — An idea — "Are you willing to run the 
risk?" — Starting for the Grande Chartreuse — Roadside visits — St. 
Laurent du Pont— Fourvoirie and the blacksmith — The wise monks 
of old — The monastery — Fr^re Jeronimo — "A mystery ! " — "Be 
here at midnight " — The monks abroad — Alpine solitudes 121 -134 



CHAPTER XIII 

A second pilgrimage — The forge closed — Listening to the silence — Ghostly 
influences — Midnight — "C'est bien vous?" — Within the walls — In 
refectory and cloisters — Silent passages — The chapel — Midnight mass 
— A strange scene — Dream voices — In the moonlight again — Differ- 
ences of temperament — Utopian existence . . 135-146 



CHAPTER XIV 

Accident in crossing from Dieppe — Hours of danger — ^A fall in landing — 
Night blindness — Abbeville — A chance meeting — Advantages of an 
attic bedroom — Market-day — Old memories — A contrast — French 
peasantry — A beautiful fragment — Parting injunctions — Watching and 
waving — " Whatever is, is right " . . . 147-158 



xiv MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 



CHAPTER XV 

French diligence— On the road to Eu— The market-place — Singular 
coincidence — A modest inn — Picturesque landlady — At the Chateau 
d'Eu — A venerable gardien — Historical reminiscences — Le Tr^port — 
— Stolen pleasures are sweet— La Patrone — Confidences — Escorted to 
the diligence ..... Pages 159-170 



CHAPTER XVI 

On the road to Dieppe — A picturesque nun — Singular meeting — Old 
friends — Soeur Marie-Blanche — The unexpected in life — A sad story 
— Taking the veil — Female diplomatist — What might have been — A 
fortunate journey — Happy days and evenings — La belle France 

171-180 



PART II 

CHAPTER XVII 

After many years — England — Literary career — Changes — Serious illness — 
In search of health — Two letters — Sad home-coming — Consulting a 
Vade Mecum — Faith a healing virtue — Hope deferred — Mrs. Davey — 
Singular character — A natural philosopher — A simple remedy — Magi- 
cal results — Rejoicings ..... 183-196 

CHAPTER XVIII 

East Lynne — Letter from Mary Howitt — A prophecy — Visiting at High- 
gate — Spiritualism — Contrast between Mary Howitt and her letters — 
An experience, only to be spiritually accounted for — Second-sight — 
Messrs. Chapman and Hall's decision — Harrison Ainsworth's surprise — 
Love for poetry — Amor Mundi — Letter from Tom Hood 197-212 

• 

CHAPTER XIX 

Health restored— Mrs. S. C. Hall— Incident— Mrs. Kavanagh — Manner 
of working — Power to make common uncommon — Creating great 
effects out of ordinary material — An ideal life — Ideality a resource — 
Never dictated — Handwriting — A retentive memory . 213-226 



CONTENTS XV 



CHAPTER XX 

Literary people not domesticated — Mrs. Henry Wood the contrary — Quiet 
influence — Early rising — Dress — Simple taste — Untiring energy — 
Books and conversation chief pleasure — Planning for good of others — 
Inspiring confidence — A go^d lawyer — Inequality a Divine law — 
Dreams — Life an unwritten sermon Pages 227-236 

CHAPTER XXI 

Going abroad — Dieppe — Les beaux jours de la vie — A first review — Author's 
pleasure — Dream long delayed — Other reviews — Legal knowledge — 
Review in the Times — Effect — Johnny Ludlow — Lord Lyttelton's 
opinion of East Lynne — Harriet Martineau's — Amount of manual 
labour — Life quiet and retired 237-250 



CHAPTER XXII 

A memorable morning — Opening the Times — Politics forgotten — A patient 
waiting — Amount of work accomplished — Shadow of AshlydycU — 
Favourite book — Humour and pathos — Threatening Mr. Ainsworth 
and Religious Tract Society — History of Danesbury House — Force 
of example ...... 251-263 



CHAPTER XXIII 

T\i!t Johnny Ludlow stories — What Mrs. Henry Wood has done for Wor- 
cestershire — Every person's life worth writing — True pictures of rural 
life — A typical house — ^Wonderful cider-cellars — More wonderful cider- 
drinkers — Secret of authorship well kept — Others claiming credit — 
Ensign Tom Pepper's Letters from the Seat of War — Forty years ago. 

264-280 



CHAPTER XXIV 

Extracts — Fashions in books — Secret of fame — Powers of invention — 
"Raw haste, half-sister to delay" — Harmony — Inevitableness — Con- 
trasts — True studies — Insight into boy nature — Intuition — Nothing 
for effect — Nearing the end — Chief object of memorials . 281-298 



XVI MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 



CHAPTER XXV 

Quiet years — Overwork — The Kentish coast — Watching the sea — Sunsets — 
First days of decline — One Christmas Day — Endurance — Facing death 
— Stntram-^Retiospection — Days of suffering and fortitude — ^Thought 
for others — The last Sunday — Faithful to the end — Last moments. 

Pages 299-312 



CHAPTER XXVI 

Work ended — Notices and regrets — "Novelists like Mrs. Henry Wood 
should never die" — "Such novels become our companions" — Day of 
Funeral — Description — Highgate — Memorial offerings — Tomb — 
Letters — A strange influence — Impressions of personal friends. 

313-342 



CHAPTER XXVII 

" Silent for Ever " .... 343*346 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Portrait of Mrs. Henry Wood 


Frontispiece 


Cloisters, Worcester Cathedral 


PAGE 

I 


Worcester .... 


7 face page 8 


The Severn from Holt Fleet . 


. lo 


Worcester Cathedral and Cloisters 


II 


Worcester Cathedral . 


To face page i6 


The Fratery, Worcester Cathedral 


20 


" Miserrimus "... 


21 


Portrait of Mrs. Price . 


To face page 24 


Powyke Bridge, Worcester 


• 32 


Friar Street, Worcester 


33 


Ombersley .... 


42 


Wittington .... 


43 


Portrait of Mr. Henry Wood 


To face page 48 


Wittington .... 


. 54 


Near Landry .... 


55 


Joachine's Cottage 


68 


In the Dauphine 


.69 


Landry . . . . . 


80 


In the Dauphin6 . . . . 


81 


The Banks of the Is^re, Dauphine 


To face page 82 



XVlll 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 



PACE 



Lyons . 


• • • 




• 


88 


Abbeville ..... 




89 


Alpine Village, Dauphin^ 




100 


In Savoie ..... 




. lOI 


Haute Combe, Lac du Bourget 




To face pc^ 104 


Alpine Village, Savoie 




112 


Gateway, Annecy .... 




. 113 


Annecy ..... 




120 


Approaching the Grande Chartreuse . 




121 


In the Dauphin^ 




To face page 128 


The Grande Chartreuse 




• 134 


Cloisters, Grande Chartreuse . 




. 


• 135 


Approaching the Grande Chartreuse . 






146 


St. Wolfram's .... 




• 


• 147 


Abbeville 


• 




. 


. 158 


House of Francis I. . 


• • 






159 


Annecy 


• • 




■ 


170 


House of Francis I. . 


• 




• 


• 171 


Lac du Bourget 


• 






. 180 


Near Abbeville 


• • 






. 183 


Abbeville 


» • • 






196 


Lancaster Terrace 


• • • 

1 






. 197 


In Picardy 


• • • 






212 


Edgar Tower, Worcester 






. 213 


Worcester Cathedral from the Severn 




To face page 220 


Lac d'Annecy .... 




226 


Old Houses, Worcester 


227 


Larger Drawing-Room, St. John's Wood Park 


To face page 232 


Smaller Drawing- Roo 


m, St. John's Wood Pj 


irk 




234 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



XIX 







PAGE 


Malvern Abbey .... 


. 


. 236 


Queen Elizabeth's House, Worcester . 


• 


• 237 


King Charles's House, Worcester 


• • 


250 


Old Houses, Worcester 


t • 


. 251 


Little Malvern . . . . . 


• 


264 


Prince Arthur's Chantry, Worcester Cathedral 


t m 


. 265 


Worcester ...... 


Toface 


'page 272 


Ombersley ...... 


• 


. 280 


Cloisters, Worcester Cathedral 


• • 


. 281 


Old Worcestershire Houses 


• 


. 298 


Chapter- House, Worcester Cathedral 


• 


. 299 


The Vacant Chair .... 


• • 


• 312 


Crypt, Worcester Cathedral . 


1 • 


• 313 


Mrs. Henry Wood's Tomb 


Toface 


'page 320 


Highgate ...... 


• 


• 342 


South Aisle, Worcester 


• 


343 


Worcester at Eventime 


* m 


• 346 


Facsimiles of Handwriting — 






Page from the MS. of The Red Cottrt Farm 


Toface 


page 224 


Last Words written by Mrs. Henry Wood 


)} 


273 



PART I 



CHAPTER I 



:s hold it half a sin 
To put in words the grief I feel ; 
For words, like Niture, hilf reveal 
. And half conceal the Soul within," 



Ellen Price — after- 
wards Mrs. Henry 
Wood — was born in 
the city of Worcester 
when the century 
was still young. ' It 
was the year memor- 
able for the great 
frost, when the 
Thames was frozen 
over and bullocks 
were roasted whole 
upon the ice-bound 
surface. Just before 

CtOISTEBS, WoBCtSTEB CATHEDRAL. thlS SCVCre COld SCt 

in, when many of the poor were frozen to death as they 
tru^ed along the country roads, and people began to wonder 




2 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

whether the ice age were returning, the child was ushered into 
the world whose name some fifty years later was to be enrolled 
amongst those who have earned fame and fought a good fight. 
She was bom on the 17th January 18 14 ; therefore at the time 
of her death — loth February 1887 — was seventy-three years 
of age. 

Yet no one thought or spoke of her as being old. Time 
seemed to have passed her by in his flight. She had the rare 
gift of perpetual youth, and was young in mind, manner and 
appearance to the end; her intellect as sparkling and her 
heart as green as they had been half a century earlier. For her 
the day never came when, as Wordsworth says, 

** . . . Nothing can bring back the hour 
Of splendour in the grass, or glory in the flower." 

She delighted in everything that was pure and lovely, all 
her keen and vivid impressions, all her interest in life and 
humanity, all her sympathy with joy and sorrow, remained 
undiminished to the end. 

She was christened Ellen, without any second name, and 
was the daughter of Mr. Thomas Price, one of the largest 
glove manufacturers in the city of Worcester, as his father had 
been before him. 

An only child, Mr. Thomas Price had inherited a large 
property from his father, who died when he was only 
a little turned fifty. His son had received what would 
have been a liberal education in these days and was a very 
exceptional one in those. Originally destined for the 
Church, when the time came for final decision he chose 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 3 

to follow in his father's footsteps and became a simple 
manufacturer. 

With all his mental gifts, there was in him a want of ambi- 
tion, an indifference to the world's honours, which kept him 
from all aspirations. "He cared for none of these things." 
From a worldly point of view perhaps he chose wisely, but his 
talents ought to have been exercised in a different field. 
Remarkable for intellect and refinement, a gentleman and 
a scholar, his attributes could find little scope in the counting- 
house of a manufactory. True, he spent much time in his 
study, leaving to managers the work of directing ; but this, after 
all, was only a compromise with what should have been. In 
classics he was so good an authority that some of the Church 
dignitaries would consult him upon abstruse or doubtful points, 
implicitly accepting his opinion — a great condescension in 
those days, when the austere Canons would hardly have claimed 
acquaintance with the heir to a throne if he had turned glove 
manufacturer — so much has the world changed since the 
century was young. The bent of his genius was classical 
rather than mathematical. Intimate with some of the Pre- 
bendaries, who condescended to make a solitary exception in 
his favour, he was more fitted for a cathedral stall than the 
calling he had adopted. He was a special favourite of Bishop 
Carr — of George IV. renown : who had none of the episcopal 
pride and unapproachableness that so often accompany 
the wearing of the apron; who was the first bishop to 
appear in Worcester Cathedral without his wig, to the horror 
and scandal of those who loved pomp and ceremony and 
the observance of ancient customs. On his deathbed the 



4 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Bishop lamented that Mr. Price had not a son in the 
Church, whose interests he might have advanced, even at 
the eleventh hour. 

Thomas Price was accomplished as well as learned ; skilful 
in music, an art of which he was passionately fond ; whilst his 
sketches in water-colour were far above the average of amateur 
productions. Landscapes, interiors, the human figure — he did 
all equally well ; but in drawing animals, if we may compare 
small things with great, he was as unsuccessful as Turner was 
with his men and women. He delighted in works of the 
imagination, and was a great reader of novels, Scott being his 
favourite author, whom he read and re-read all the days of his 
life ; but those were days when the choice of novelists was 
limited. He was also a great chess-player, moved rapidly, and 
seldom lost a game. Everything he undertook he did to the 
utmost of his powers, and those powers were of a very high 
order. 

The writer saw him once, and once only, when as a young 
child he had been brought over to England on a short visit. 
He was then a venerable-looking gentleman, with calm and 
dignified manners and subdued tones ; an abundance of white 
hair, and a face beautiful in age. Punctilious in dress, as in 
all matters of courtesy and everyday life, he still wore large 
frills to his shirt-front, though they had gone out of fashion 
excepting with gentlemen of the old school Large white cuffs 
set off his white and delicate hands, and he leaned much, in 
talking, on a massive silver-headed stick. Altogether he was 
exactly the picture of age and dignity to strike with awe an 
impressionable child. On that occasion he had come up 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 5 

to London to visit his daughter, Mrs. Henry Wood, who was 
unable to go down into Worcestershire. 

Up to the age of seven Ellen Price was brought up in the 
house of her grandmother, a lady who adorned her home, but 
took no part in its management. Member of a county family, 
in marrying the glove manufacturer — handsome, a gentleman, 
and wealthy though he might be — she was considered to have 
married beneath her. These distinctions, we repeat, have very 
much passed away, and will do so still more ; but a century 
ago the old order had not changed. In Mildred Arkell we 
remember how Lucy Cheveley was supposed to have lost caste 
in marrying Peter Arkell. 

In her own early home Mrs. Price, the grandmother, had 
never been initiated into the mysteries of housekeeping. 
Surrounded by luxury, this branch of a girFs education was 
considered unnecessary for one who was probably destined 
to a distinguished marriage, but who, as we have seen, sacri- 
ficed ambition to love. She was never able to master the 
intricacies of domestic details, and in her new home these 
had to be confided to a housekeeper : a middle-aged upper 
servant, who had lived in the father's house from the time of 
the daughter's birth. She now had charge of everything, 
and the women servants were under her control. Her 
name was Tipton; she was a very original character, and 
never appeared in anything but a prim silk gown. No 
doubt she was the foundation of the type of old and 
faithful servant Mrs. Henry Wood has described in some of 
her novels. 

The young child Ellen was Mrs. Tipton's especial charge 



6 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

and favourite, though she had also her own personal attendant 
and separate rooms ; for in spite of being the sunshine of her 
grandmother's existence, she was only allowed to be with her 
at stated times, according to the stricter fashion of those days. 
The housekeeper generally accompanied the child in her morn- 
ing walks, and in the afternoons, whenever she went out in 
the carriage with her grandmother, was always in charge. 
In all matters needing personal activity and command 
Mrs. Price was singularly useless, even in controlling 
children. The child's place in the carriage was seldom 
allowed to be otherwise occupied, until the rule almost 
amounted to a superstition. If no friend were present, 
Tipton had to be at her post, no matter how great the in- 
convenience. 

In their drives they often passed over the old bridge span- 
ning the Severn, and the charming view so delighted the child 
that more often than not the carriage was stopped for a few 
moments' enjoyment. It was a scene Mrs. Henry Wood 
frequently alludes to in her novels. Here the mischievous 
College boys flung old Ketch's keys into the water ; here poor 
Charley Channing disappeared in his terror. Below flowed the 
calm, lovely river. Upon its banks rose the grave and dignified 
Cathedral, surrounded by its ancient Prebendal houses, by trees 
that waved and rustled and whispered in the wind ; whilst round 
the venerable tower the rooks, looking almost as old and digni- 
fied, cawed and flew and wheeled with all their solemn air and 
sound. Not far ofl", the famous spire of St. Andrew's, rising 
in singular beauty towards the heavens, was clearly outlined : 
a contrast to the dignified square Cathedral tower. The 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 7 

placid water flowing to the sea reflected a thousand objects 
on which the child ever longed and lingered to gaze. Trees 
and sky and Cathedral outlines all found their duplicate in 
the famous stream, and to the imaginative young girl it was 
ever a dream of Fairyland that in after years rose up at 
Memory's call. Longer drives were frequently taken to the 
surrounding villages, to more distant parts of the county, 
until the whol6 neighbourhood far and near became familiar 
and beloved; indelibly stamped upon the child's brain. It 
is all this neighbourhood — the villages, lanes and ancient 
houses of Worcestershire — that in after years she so vividly 
reproduced in Johnny Ludlow ; so that places and scenes not 
visited for half a century are as accurately described as though 
sketched on the spot. 

Few counties possess more picturesque villages than 
Worcestershire, especially the neighbourhood of the Faithful 
City, which abounded in those days in the old timber houses 
— the "Worcestershire houses," as they have been called 
— which add so much to the beauty of its landscape. 
The modern element, now only too visible, was still non- 
existent ; whilst all the traces of a bygone period of romance, 
so great a charm and feature of Worcester itself, had not 
begun to suffer from the inevitable effects of time and decay. 
All this portion of England is a sylvan dream that has 
occupied many an artist's pencil and many a poet's pen. In 
the accompanying illustrations we have endeavoured to repro- 
duce some of the rural and antiquarian charm of these villages, 
and some of the antiquarian and historical interest of Worcester 
itself. The illustrations both of English and foreign scenes 



8 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

are all places consecrated to Mrs. Henry Wood's earlier life • 
scenes amidst which she dwelt, and day by day and year by year 
grew familiar with and deeply loved, both at home and abroad ; 
and in placing them in her Memoir, we enable the reader to 
realise more vividly the impressions that so greatiy influenced 
her mind, and insensibly gave their colouring to her work. 

Mr. Price lived in a large house, under the very shadow 
of the Cathedral, where they always attended service. 
Thus the child's earliest impressions were tinged with 
the ecclesiastical element to which she grew devoted, 
and which is so frequently introduced into her novels. 
Doubtless, even before she could speak, her large wonder- 
ing eyes would trace with earnest gravity the solemn Cathe- 
dral outlines. From this she would turn to the College 
boys tearing through the gateway of Edgar Tower; would 
listen to their footsteps clattering through the cloisters as they 
rushed to and from school; and thus even in infancy she 
began to study unconsciously the character of that complex 
creature, the schoolboy, to be reproduced in later years with 
so much truth and fidelity. 

It was in one of their morning walks that the housekeeper, 
whilst probably she saved the life of her charge, also possibly 
laid the foundation for future lifelong delicacy. 

She had been warned against a certain field, in which 
a bull was wont occasionally to pass his days. This bull 
had been known to show signs of viciousness, and was 
to be avoided. Unfortunately Mrs. Tipton, like many other 
excellent people, had a will of her own — a far stronger 
will, indeed, than her gentle mistress. She was accustomed 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 9 

to command, and to think for herself. The field was a 
favourite field with her, and a pathway running diagonally 
through it led to her favourite walk. 

On this particular morning the bull was certainly there, but 
at the far end, quietly grazing, and looking as if he and mis- 
chief had parted company for ever. The pathway was at this 
end of the field, the bull at that end ; it was ridiculous to talk 
of danger, argued Mrs. Tipton : and they passed over the stile. 
The child was wearing a red silk hood trimmed with fur, and 
when they were half-way across the path the mild -looking 
animal caught sight of the hood — and was mild no longer. 
With one furious bound he charged down upon them. Tipton, 
repenting too late, paralysed with fear, took the child in her 
arms, and rushed onwards for dear safety : it was, indeed, a 
race for life. She gained the farther hedge, but not the stile. 
The bull was almost upon them. Scarcely knowing what she 
did, wild with terror, she threw the child over the hedge into 
the adjoining field. 

How she escaped herself she never knew: whether she 
reached the stile in time, or broke through the hedge, she 
could never tell ; but she did escape. Expecting to find the 
child seriously injured, she was surprised to see her standing 
unharmed, but pale, quiet, and startled. Perhaps the long 
grass had saved her. Perhaps her fall had been broken by 
one of those guardian spirits in whom all her life she 
firmly believed, and to whose care she ever seemed pro- 
videntially consigned. The escape was certainly little less 
than a miracle. 

Tipton never again had the opportunity of transgressing. 



lo MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

even if she had the wish, for the bull was seen no more. He 
had forfeited the right to his ambrosial fields, and spent the 
remainder of his life in a humble shed. And Mrs. Tipton 
herself was never quite the same afterwards. The shock had 
been great, and she possibly felt that having received mercy 
she must show mercy in return. Henceforth she ruled with 
less severity in her little kingdom ; the sceptre was more visible 
than the sword ; until, in a very few years, she and many of 
her beloved surroundings passed into the unknown, and their 
places knew them no more. 




CHAPTER II 



"The seasons bring the Rower again. 

And bring the firstling to the flocit ; 
And in the dusk of the«, the dock 
Beats out the little lives of men." 

The childhood of 
genius is said to be 
either very awakened 
or very backward. 
In the case of Ellen 
Price it was the 
former. At seven 
years old she had 
gone through the 
studies of girls twice 
her age. She could 
repeat whole poems, 
such as Gray's Elegy 
and the Deserted 

WoRCBSTER Cathedral akd Cloisters. Viilage ; and before 

she was thirteen knew by heart a great deal of Shakespeare. 
Her themory was remarkable. In later days, when asked to 




12 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

do SO by her children, she would sometimes recite in the 
twilight, by the hour together, poem after poem : her sweet 
and gentle tones so quiet and impressive that — to give a 
solitary example — at 

" The cricket chirrups on the hearth, 
The crackling faggot flies," 

one almost heard the one and saw the other. Time after time 
her intonation and emphasis seemed to bring out new charms 
and meanings, betraying singular depths of quiet feeling and 
sympathy with the poet. The year before she died, one of 
her children having asked a question with regard to Sterne's 
Maria, she immediately repeated two whole pages bearing 
upon the subject. Yet she had never opened the book since 
she was thirteen — an interval of sixty years. As a child, 
after reading her daily tasks once through, she could always 
say them fluently. History was her favourite study, and to 
the end of life there were few historical facts and persons that 
she could not recall at will. 

In her early home she had all things very much her own 
way ; all her wishes were regarded. Her grandmother supplied 
her liberally with pocket-money ; but where in most cases it 
would have been spent in toys and bon-bons, in this instance 
it went in books : in stories and fairy tales, in poetry and 
history; books of which she soon possessed a great store, 
looked upon as her chief treasure and resource. With these, 
even as a young child, she would take refuge from the world 
around her, and become lost and absorbed in an ideal exist- 
ence of her own. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 13 

We have heard her say that even in those early days this 
was her great happiness — to be amongst her books. Already 
her mind was busy weaving simple plots and small romances, 
and she would endow living people with strange histories and 
create fictitious characters to suit her childish imaginings. The 
quiet cloisters she crowded with dream people, and at night as 
she watched the outlines of the Cathedral steeped in moonlight, 
she would fancy the dark and solemn aisles peopled with all 
the ghosts of those who reposed there and belonged to the 
historic past. When only three years old her grandmother 
would teach her poems which she easily learned by heart, and 
when friends were present she would be brought into the 
drawing-room to recite verse after verse. She was looked upon 
as a small wonder, and it was well that she did not develop 
into that most unfortunate of all fates, an infant prodigy. But 
her mind, happily, was never introspective, dwelling upon self, 
a mental condition that always leads to suffering, and too often 
to failure. She was ever occupied with outward things, taking 
the keenest interest in all her surroundings. Nevertheless, the 
indulged life at her grandmother's could not be without a 
certain danger, and perhaps it was well that it was soon to be 
interrupted. 

When she was seven years old, Mr. Price, the grandfather, 
died, after a few months' mysterious illness which baffled all 
physicians. He suffered no pain, but gradually grew weaker, 
faded, and passed away. After death, when lying in his coffin, 
it was proposed to take in his little grand-daughter — of whom 
during life he had been so fond, and who had returned all his 
affection — for one look before the last sad office was performed, 



14 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

and the face for ever closed to mortal eyes. The act, kindly 
prompted, was a mistake. Peculiarly sensitive and impression- 
able, a nature probably no one quite understood or realised, the 
child was so terrified by the sight that she fell into strong 
hysterics, and for many hours they almost feared for the result. 
In time she calmed down and recovered ; but the impression 
remained, and was never forgotten. 

After the death of her grandfather changes were made in 
the household, and it was decided that the little girl should 
return to her own home. 

For her this meant the commencement of a new life. At 
her grandmother's she had reigned alone, the light and charm 
of the household ; a child with capacities beyond her years ; 
her every desire gratified. In the new home she became the 
companion of her father, whose cultivated mind guided her 
from that hour, and no doubt had considerable influence 
in directing her intellect. Over and above her governess, he 
superintended her reading; and she ever looked up to him 
with the utmost reverence and affection. Mr. Thomas Price 
was a very good man, without being what is called deeply 
religious. At any rate he made no parade of his religion. 
Goodness was innate with him, and he inherited from 
his mother that calmness of spirit which caused him to 
take the affairs of life only too quietly. He was eminently 
just and kind-hearted, especially good to the poor, who in 
every right cause found him a strong champion. No man 
in Worcester was more looked up to and respected; and 
at public meetings his few quiet words had more weight 
than the longer sentences of others. Those were not days 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 15 

when the labouring classes were gaining the upper hand, 
and nothing roused the spirit within Mr. Price so much as 
the righteous complaint of the working people. Con- 
sequently he was the most popular of men, and could rule 
where others failed. Many a trouble was quelled at the 
rising by his influence: a voice never raised, a hand never 
stretched out. So much was this the case that his power 
was scarcely realised; it told imperceptibly; he was so 
seldom seen, went so little amongst them, said so little 
when he did appear, that even the men themselves scarcely 
knew how much they valued and regarded him. 

One secret of his influence was his singular good sense 
and clear judgment, inherited from his father. Although 
his mind was highly cultivated, he must sometimes have felt 
that his faculties were wasted in things beneath them. A 
university career, where he might have taken honours and 
spent his days in the intellectual atmosphere for which Nature 
meant him — this is what ought to have been. He had only 
to stretch out his hand and take it, and would have done so 
but for that want of ambition and energy. He lived in a world 
of his own, revelling in solitude and contemplation, his mental 
gifts sufficient for him ; every moment of the time not due 
to business was spent in the atmosphere of his well-chosen 
library. 

It seems almost a pity that he had wealth and work to in- 
herit ; that he was an only child ; for energy and exertion were 
thus rendered unnecessary. He was able to supply all his 
simple tastes, to surround himself with luxuries he never cared 
for, and to indulge in all the refinements that he loved. 



i6 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

With such a nature Ellen Price's earlier years were passed : 
the years after she left her grandmother's home, up to 
the time of her marriage. Her father was exactly the man, 
and possessed exactly the mind, to strengthen the good seed 
already in her heart. All his refinement and intellectual 
attainments found an immediate response in her own sensitive 
and sympathetic temperament At all periods of her life she 
placed high ideals before her ; and here, during her most im- 

• 

pressionable years, she dwelt under the wing and shadow of 
one who fulfilled her loftiest aspirations. The Times^ in review- 
ing East Lynne^ said they had never before met an authoress 
so capable of delineating with a few strokes of the pen the 
portraits and characters of men, and of noble men ; but the 
faculty was being trained from the days of her youth ; it grew 
with her growth, until it became a part of herself. 

Much of her talent must have been inherited from her 
father. He never wrote : few wrote in those days who did 
not feel within them the sacred fire of inspiration; it was 
supposed to be an inborn gift, just as much as music or 
painting or any other of the divine arts : but he was 
of an original and very thoughtful turn of mind. His 
thoroughness, wide reading, powers of applying himself to 
mental work — all this was in singular contrast to the want of 
physical energy and activity which distinguished him through- 
out life. Had he lived in the Middle Ages he would have 
been a hermit devoted to contemplation ; or, turning alchemist, 
he would have sought with nervous zeal the secrets of science 
and nature. Born under the influence of the eighteenth 
century, he became nothing but a quiet scholar who had very 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 17 

much mistaken his vocation, and in consequence, if we err 
not, was never quite the thoroughly happy and satisfied man 
he might have been under other circumstances. 

All his earnestness of purpose and high sense of duty equally 
characterised his daughter Ellen; and it is because we feel 
how much she owed to her father, how much she inherited 
from him, both in mental and moral qualities, that we dwell 
upon the character of Mr. Price. With her, Nature had been 
more prodigal in gifts ; and the faculties which were wanting 
in the father to make him a great man were bestowed 
upon the child. She had singular nervous energy, which 
would never allow her to rest satisfied without attaining 
to great things ; and this, combined with untiring powers of 
application, carried her safely and successfully through years 
of earnest work and deferred hope. 

She possessed also what perhaps was the strongest and 

certainly the highest faculty within her — an eminently spiritual 

nature, to which everything else was subservient. Devotion 

was her first duty ; quiet, simple, and unobtrusive ; never 

talked about, never paraded : for she ever felt that utterance 

made all feeling commonplace, and the deepest subjects were 

too sacred for words. No doubt this also was innate ; 

Heaven's best gift was not denied to one who ever seemed 

under its special protection. With all truth and reverence it 

may be said that throughout life the hand of God was upon 

her, and she was ever in His keeping. "Thou shalt hide 

me under the shadow of Thy wings, and I shall be safe 

from fear of evil." Such might have been the motto of 

all Mrs. Henry Wood's days; and, unless the succeeding 

2 



i8 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

pages fail in their object, this fact must become abundantly 
evident. 

From her earliest years she was brought up in a sacred 
atmosphere. Her first recollections, we have seen, were the out- 
lines of the Cathedral under whose shadow she dwelt, for her 
grandfather's house was either in the Close or very near to it. 
Her first remembered sounds were the sweet College bells 
ringing for service. From her nursery window her attendant 
would hold her up to watch the people passing on their way 
to and from the College services with grave and reverent step. 
A little later in the day her grandmother was in the habit of 
taking her out and pacing the quiet, deserted, beautiful cloisters. 
She would talk of the happy dead resting there ; would point 
to the strange gravestone with its sad inscription " Miserrimus,'* 
and say to the wondering, impressionable child that one lay 
there whose life must have been all sorrow and suffering — 
perhaps one who had wasted his days in sin, which at last had 
brought him to realise that such a life must ever end in such an 
epitaph. Or again, perhaps one who had only suffered through 
the sins of others, himself good and righteous. It all read the 
same lesson, whatever the cause for the inscription, that sin 
ended in sorrow. 

And the child would look up with earnest eyes, and con- 
template the gravestone — which ever after held a fascina- 
tion for her — with thoughts beyond her years. We do not 
think there was ever a time when she resolved to be good, to 
choose the better part ; goodness was part of her character, 
and it became more confirmed with her growth. She possessed 
a singularly self-contained nature and disciplined mind. But 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 19 

we shall see that quietness and contemplation and a life of 
thought were very early forced upon her. 

After these quiet walks and talks in the solitary cloisters — 
a great contrast to the hour when the College boys, released 
from school, would invade the sacred precincts and make 
them echo with their noise — the grandmother would enter the 
Cathedral and pace its equally deserted aisles, impressing upon 
the child that they were now in the house of God; that 
here they were on holy ground, and here they came to 
worship Him. And Sunday after Sunday, when still too 
young to realise or take part in the service, she would be 
taken to their own pew, which immediately faced that of the 
Dean's family. 

One thing that in those days charmed and delighted her 
was the wonderful east window, which had no special design, 
but was a kaleidoscope of ancient glass of many rich tints. 
Her gaze would often wander to this marvellous vision, 
attracted by beauty of colouring. We do not know whether 
the window still remains, or has given place to something 
modern and inferior. Sometimes it would be difficult to draw 
her away from the fascination. Service ended, the magnificent 
organ would roll its volume of sound through roof and arches, 
and many of the congregation would pace the aisles whilst the 
player extended his voluntary beyond the utmost limits, and 
the bedesmen would wax impatient and think it hard that 
they should be kept from their Sunday dinner; but the 
pacing congregation, and the sweet notes of the organ, and 
the strains of Beethoven and Handel were as nothing to the 
little child in comparison with the wonderful colours of that 



zo MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

east window. All through life Mrs. Henry Wood retained her 
love for old stained glass, and was ever reverently susceptible to 
the charm of harmonious tones. 

She had inherited her father's artistic taste, and in earlier 
years painted m water colours, loving to form and sketch 
her own groups Her artistic eye in placing flowers, whether 
to decorate a table or a room, was a talent in itself, and 
a rare one In later years her drawing rooms in France 
were always beautiful with a profusion of blossoms and ferns, 
that threw a charm over the rooms such as few others pes 
sessed Generally she attended to her own flowers, and it 
was always a labour of love, but if for some reason they 
had been changed by the housekeeper, she would presently go 
round the rooms, and quickly transform what before had been 
very inartistically arranged 




CHAPTER III 



" Come Time, and leach me, many years, 
I da not sufler in a dream ; 
For now so strange do these things se 
Mine eyes have leisure for their tears." 




In appearance she 



We have spoken of 
Mr Price and must 
not omit some men- 
tion of his wife ; for 
Mrs Henry Wood's 
talent seemed in- 
herited from both 
parents the deeper 
quahties from the 
father all the vivacity 
■ind ease from the 
mother 

Mrs Price was in 

all things the exact 

opposite to her hus- 

.tremely pretty ; small 



and &ury-like, with dark flashing eyes, a wealth of dark 



22 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

curling hair, a very pink and white complexion. The portrait 
we are able to give of her was painted when she was about forty 
years old, and the bloom of youth had faded. Moreover it was 
taken immediately after a dangerous illness, when she had been 
very near to the gates of death. The face was somewhat 
drawn, the perfect oval had fallen in, the features looked 
exaggerated. Nevertheless the likeness was thought good. 
In her movements she was light and graceful; active 
and energetic, but a little wanting in repose. Like many 
little women, she was fond of ruling and of having her own 
way, and her quiet husband allowed her in most things to do 
as she pleased. Year after year passed, and Mr. and Mrs. 
Price remained the excellent friends husband and wife 
ought to be; but it grew into an understood thing that his 
study must not be too often invaded, and he gradually with- 
drew more and more into its seclusion. Within that sanctum 
his daughter Ellen, and she alone, always found a welcome 
and a sure resting-place ; and there much of their time would 
be spent reading and conversing, discussing books, playing 
chess, happy in each other's society. 

Into much of Mr. Price's inner life his wife could not enter ; 
not from want of mental power, for she was as well educated 
and intelligent as most women, but from want of sympathy. 
She had nothing of the contemplative about her. Though a 
woman of vivid imagination, there was little in her of the 
dreamer. Passionately devoted to her husband, she yet never 
sought to identify herself with his intellectual pursuits. Her 
pleasure lay in ruling her household, in receiving friends, 
in knowing everything that was going on in the world, and, 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 23 

as far as she could, influencing the little realm around her; 
loving to feel herself a necessity, and that without her the 
earth would cease to move. She delighted to talk, and she 
talked well. Her conversation was witty and vivacious; 
and, whatever the society she was in, she must be its leading 
movement and shining light. As Montaigne has said of 
another, she would have taken upon herself the negotiations 
of the world, and found her happiness in doing so. 

A great deal may be said for and against such a tempera- 
ment. Mrs. Price was actuated by excellent principles ; her 
desire was to set the world to rights ; a state of paradise or 
a millennium would have charmed her, always supposing her 
to be a chief ministering spirit. But these natures in their 
anxiety to do good often do a great deal of harm. The world 
refuses to be set to rights after their pattern, and those who 
give themselves this impossible task disturb much outward and 
inward harmony. 

It followed that upon her first-born daughter Ellen it was 
impossible that she could have any great influence. The 
active temperament which must be the Prime Minister of 
her little kingdom was out of touch with the thoughtful girl 
whose happiness lay in rest and repose, in reading and 
study, in spending all the time permitted in her father's 
library : a delightful haven of refuge from the outside world ; 
even from the more bustling parts of the house, where other 
children, as they appeared and began to grow up and assert 
themselves, brought with them all the reposeless atmosphere 
in which children of all ages have their being. 

Yet there was always the charm of beauty about Mrs. 



24 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Price, and though her voice was seldom silent, it was sweet. 
She had been brought up in a home where the word 
of one was the law of the household. Her father, one of 
the finest men of his time — he was six feet seven inches 
high — was violent and overbearing in temper. He would 
brook no contradiction ; and the gentle spirit of his wife had 
soon learned that passive obedience and non-resistance must 
be her refuge. A tyrant in his own house, he was not beloved 
within it, and was feared outside it. 

His two daughters naturally stood in awe of him, and con- 
tradiction was never attempted. For his son he made home 
so uncomfortable that he went out to India, and died there. 
A journey to India a century ago was a very different matter 
from what it is to-day, and meant greater exile ; to those left 
behind it seemed a parting for ever — as it proved to be in this 
instance. The mother's heart was broken ; her son had been 
the one hope and consolation in her repressed life, as only 
sons often are, no matter how^numerous the daughters; and 
she seldom smiled after her dear James left her. He 
was a young man of much ability and promise, and with 
his departure went out the light and sunshine of the 
home. 

Yet, strange as it may seem, this tyrant, who made every 
one so uncomfortable and unhappy, was greatly attached in his 
own way to his wife and children. Indulged and spoilt in 
his youth, accustomed to being made first from childhood 
upwards and to having his own will in all things, he was 
eminently selfish. The child was father to the man ; he grew 
up violent in temper, passionate in spirit. But in his own 




- €,„ „ „„„,„/„„ 4 • 'Cm4;, 



• •• * 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 25 

peculiar way he was sternly just, meting out to every man his 
exact due; only withholding in his own home the affection 
and consideration equally its right. 

His two daughters were very pretty girls, and were known 
far and wide as "the beautiful Miss Evanses." Both were 
extremely amiable; the one inheriting her father's love of 
ruling, though with none of his unsociable and violent qualities ; 
the other, like her mother, letting the world have its way, 
" laughed and bid it pass." Many suitors came, only to be 
summarily dismissed by the father, who declared that his 
daughters should never marry. At length in this matter they 
took the law into their own hands. When their hearts fell 
captive, love gave courage to the occasion : and Miss Eliza- 
beth Evans became Mrs. Thomas Price. Her sister soon 
followed her example, and the old home was left with only the 
parent birds. 

We do not know whether the change softened the iron- 
willed father, and made him more tender and considerate 
towards the lonely and subdued wife. Even so, he had 
not very long wherein to make atonement. Soon after the 
marriage of his second daughter — who was even more attractive 
than Mrs. Price, and owned the dark violet eyes that are 
so rare, but that once seen can never be forgotten — he was 
drowned ; thus coming to a violent end, even as he had lived 
a stormy life. 

We have said that life with Mrs. Price was no visionary thing, 
but on the contrary a very active reality. Yet she was a woman 
of strong imagination. She also sometimes had remarkable 
dreams, and on one occasion at least saw what is vulgarly 



26 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

called a ghost. Or perhaps it might rather be termed an 
apparition, for it was the manifestation of a person at the 
moment of death. 

Taking a quiet country walk one spring morning, she passed 
through the very field in which a few years before her little 
daughter Ellen had been placed in such jeopardy by the 
deceitful bull and Mrs. Tipton's indiscretion. One of her 
servants was to be married that morning. She had lived 
for some years with her mistress, was devoted to her, and 
had long debated in her own mind whether to give up her 
comfortable home for the uncertainties of matrimony and 
the perfidious possibilities of mankind. As usual, matri- 
mony won the day. She had been an excellent servant; 
her mistress had taken much interest in her, and was sorry 
to part with her; though faithful servants who identified 
themselves with the household were in those days not few 
and far between. The maid's name was Betty; and Betty 
went back to her mother's cottage to prepare for the 
great occasion and spend some last days in the old 
home. 

It was the wedding morning ; but as Mrs. Price went through 
the fields she was not at that moment thinking of her late 
handmaiden. Suddenly raising her eyes, to her astonishment 
she saw Betty sitting upon the stile in her wedding clothes — 
the attire and bonnet given her for the occasion — pressing her 
hand to her side. At that moment she ought to have been 
in church standing at the altar, and Mrs. Price felt a little 
bewildered. "Betty, why are you there? What are you 
doing ? " she called. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 27 

There was no response. For a moment Mrs. Price withdrew 
her eyes, and when she looked again the figure had vanished. 
Supposing her to be on the other side the hedge, her mistress, 
still more bewildered, hastened onwards. There was no Betty 
anywhere, either this side the hedge or the other. Unable to 
fathom the mystery, she determined to go to Betty's cottage, 
which was about two miles away. There she found trouble ; 
the mother overwhelmed, the bridegroom inconsolable. When 
dressed for church and about to start, Betty had suddenly 
pressed her hand to her side, and calling out, " O mother ! 
mother ! " had dropped lifeless from disease of the heart. It 
was at this moment that she had appeared to her mistress 
sitting on the distant stile. Poor Betty was now lying on 
her bed in the stillness of death, dressed as her mistress 
had seen her, excepting that the wedding bonnet had been 
removed. 

We give this as an authentic record of an apparition, a fact 
not to be disputed. Those who are sceptical upon these points 
must explain the circumstance to their own satisfaction, if they 
can do so. 

But Mrs. Price had many supernatural and spiritualistic 
experiences. With dreams that came true she was also occa- 
sionally visited. The following is a single instance, and one 
of the most simple. 

She dreamed one night that she was standing on a vast and 
solitary plain, nothing before her but a level surface bounded 
by the horizon. Some distance behind her was an immense 
mass of precipitous rock which seemed to tower to the clouds. 
In the centre was a cavernous opening, a species of immense 



28 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

portal; and within it a mysterious darkness no human eye 
could penetrate. In the sky of her dream a strange light threw 
its reflection upon the wide plain, and she seemed to recognise 
it as " the light that never was on land or sea." Suddenly 
across the plain she saw three figures advancing, one behind 
the other, walking slowly but steadily, as though nothing could 
turn aside their footsteps or arrest their progress ; there was a 
destiny to be fulfilled. As they approached she recognised two 
of them as near relatives, the third a friend about to become 
connected with her by marriage. All three looked solemn 
and serious. 

Then, in her dream, she beckoned to the first and pointed to 
the portal. He hesitated a moment, went on, and passed into 
the impenetrable darkness. She knew she should see him no 
more. In like manner she beckoned to the second and 
pointed to the portal, and he too passed out of mortal sight ; 
and so with the third. She remained standing alone upon the 
plain, gazing sadly at the dark opening. " I too," she murmured, 
"must pass through, but not yet." The words seemed not her 
own, but suggested. When she awoke she distinctly remem- 
bered her dream, and related it to her husband. He had no 
sympathy with dreams and ghosts, and all the supernatural 
elements that follow in their train. And when his wife ended 
by saying, "Thomas, you will see that those three will soon 
die," he simply replied, " My dear, I think you should pay no 
regard to these things." Yet it is certain that within a few 
months the three men seen in her dream died one after the 
other, and in the order in which they had passed into the 
darkness. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 29 

The whole colouring and surrounding of the dream was so 
singularly borne out by subsequent facts, that one hesitates to 
say there was nothing of the supernatural about it. Mrs. Price 
had many such dreams; and it would seem there are persons to 
whom the veil dividing the material from the spiritual world 
is partially withdrawn, so that they obtain glimpses others can 
never see, and are susceptible to influences others can never 
feel. It appears evident that some are in closer contact 
with the " things unseen " than others. 

With all her love of ruling and undue attention to small 
things, Mrs. Price had a high tone of mind; was almost 
" unjustly just " ; literally, as well as figuratively, censuring 
others by the dignity of excelling, insisting upon perfection, 
and of course never meeting with it; often discouraging 
by fault-finding, rather than helping others by praise and 
forbearance to "rise on stepping-stones of their dead selves 
to higher things." She was very quick; all fire and intelli- 
gence ; not always weighing her words, which often went 
deeper than she intended. Yet there was a great deal of 
the spiritual about her. She also possessed a keen sense 
of humour and of the pathetic. 

Mrs. Price lived to a great age, and with her the evening of 
life was calm. Sorrow and trial had been largely her portion. 
Yet she retained her activity to the end. When past eighty 
years of age she would walk about the Malvern Hills as 
brightly and briskly as ever; small and thin and some- 
what frail, she knew nothing of the " weight of years." 
She was very proud of her daughter's reputation. In those 
days life for her was comparatively over ; all its activity had 



30 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

departed; her love of ruling and power, her desire to set 
the world to rights, had ceased. " My greatest pleasure now," 
she would say, "is to be alone, to shut myself into my 
sitting-room with one of my daughter's books. At once I feel 
myself in another world, surrounded by a crowd of familiar 
friends ; and they are as real to me as if they actually 
existed." 

She would take some of the credit to herself. " It is my 
opinion," she would say laughingly, " that talent is a good 
deal inherited from the mother, and that I by no means 
count for nothing in this matter. I quite think that if I had 
tried to write when I was young, I should have succeeded. 
I often find my brain weaving stories and plots, and could 
almost imagine them realities." 

One of her great friends was Mrs. Benson, wife of Dr. 
Benson, one time Master of the Temple and Canon of 
Worcester. We have before us a copy of an old edition 
of Milton once given by Mrs. Benson to Mrs. Price, 
and long, long afterwards passed on to us by the latter, 
who parted with it as with a treasure. We mention the 
fact because Canon Benson greatly influenced Mrs. Henry 
Wood's earlier years, and she ever spoke of him in terms 
of affection. The months when he was in residence were 
to her some of the happiest of the year. He would not 
have been very many hours within the precincts of 
the Cathedral before they met; and once more she 
would be charmed with the quiet, earnest tones, the sweet 
voice and gentle bearing, always singularly subdued, but 
full of purpose. He was exactly the sort of man who 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 31 

formed one of her ideals — grave, courtly, quiet, earnest 
and devoted; a scholar, and a preacher of rare eloquence. 
Whenever he was in residence people flocked from far 
and near to hear him. The College gates were besieged 
long before the hour of service. Aisles were thronged, and 
even the pulpit stairs were occupied, so that people had to 
come down and make way for the preacher to ascend. All 
sects and denominations would be there : dissenters ; others 
who never went anywhere at other times ; even Quakers, who 
would never enter the Cathedral on ordinary occasions, 
scarcely dare to do so, under penalty of a rebuke at " Meet- 
ing." His preaching was the quietest, calmest, most earnest 
that could be conceived; precisely the oratory that most 
impressed Mrs. Henry Wood. Such a voice as his was 
seldom heard; it was harmony and music, so clear and 
distinct that its softest whisper could be heard by the 
whole congregation. He had one affliction. In later life he 
became so deaf that he could not even hear the organ in 
church ; and when reading the Commandments, a sign had to 
be made when the response ceased and it was time to go on. 
It was a common saying that it was difficult to decide which 
was the sweeter and more musical — his clear voice, or the soft 
flute notes of the instrument. 

Another Cathedral dignitary in those days very much 
influenced her life and mind — Dr. Murray, then Dean of 
Worcester and at the same time Bishop of Rochester: for 
they were days of pluralities. He was a handsome and 
dignified man, and carried an atmosphere of dignity into all 
his domestic relations. 



32 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Amongst such people and surroundings Ellen Price's early 
life was passed; it is this life which she loves to introduce 
into so many of her works. In none is it more conspicuous 
than in the work that was appearing at the time of her death 
— Lady Grace; though a comparatively short story. One 
feels that it is drawn from life ; that the people had an exist- 
ence; nothing is invented excepting plot, situations, and 
incident ; even in these we know not where reality ends and 
fiction begins. Cathedral atmosphere, cathedral people, 
cathedral prejudices — these were a part of herself, influenc- 
ing mind and thought. With these she was identified. She 
delighted in the smallest details of this life as much as in its 
broad outlines and deeper realities. 




CHAPTER IV 



" In words, like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er, 

Like coarsest clothes against the cold : 
But that large grief which these enfold 
Is given in outline and no more." 

Ellen Pkice early 
began to learn the 
lessons of endurance 
which life teaches to 
most of us. "In 
your patience possess 
ye your souls." 
Through suffering 
she was to obtain 
this patience, and to 
be made yet more 
perfect 

At the age of 
thirteen a delicacy 

Fbiak Strut, Wokcbtbi. began tO shoW ItSelf. 

Something was wrong with the spine : no organic disease, but 
a weakness which eventually produced a serious curvature. 




34 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

In these days probably all might have been rectified, the 
wrong put right; but seventy years ago the science of 
medicine and surgery was in a very elementary condition ; 
doctors were still groping in the dark, asking of each other 
the origin of life, the mystery of disease and death. All 
that was known was applied to the delicate child; all that 
could be done was done; nothing availed; it seemed that 
a life of more or less pain and weakness was to be her lot. 
Her days were now passed on a reclining board or couch, from 
which she seldom moved. More than ever she became the 
companion of her father in his study, and probably more 
than ever dear to his heart. Her hold on life seemed to be 
relaxing, and we prize most that we are about to lose. Read- 
ing and study, always her great pleasure, became her chief 
resource. Probably in these days she applied herself too 
closely to work ; but surrounded by her books she was always 
happy, and her gentle father, erring himself on the same side, 
was the last to restrain her. 

Her mind grew and expanded, but its development was 
no doubt at the expense of physical power. As delicacy 
increased, so did the singular beauty of the face : a beauty 
difficult to describe, and quite apart from mere perfection of 
feature. Perhaps the word ethereal will give the best idea of 
its character, for it was like a perfume. We inhale the scent of 
the rose, we know it is there and delights us, but we cannot 
grasp or describe it. Equally subtle was the charm of Ellen 
Price. This remained to the end. Even in hours of illness 
and suffering it never forsook her. Her face was without line 
or wrinkle or sign of age to the last. A description by an 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 35 

unknown writer at the time of her death is as true as anything 
that could be said. Whoever the writer was, he must have 
known her well. " You can almost see the spirit itself of Mrs. 
Henry Wood shining through the frail, I had almost said 
diaphanous body, and exquisite face. One never grows 
familiar with the sight, and it rivets and charms one more 
and more; for she possesses a sparkling intellect and a 
heart of gold." 

The face was a pure oval, singularly refined : that per- 
fect outline so rarely found. A straight, delicate nose ; 
teeth white and even ; a charming mouth betraying at once 
the sensitive s)niipathy and steadfastness of her disposition; 
firm as well as sweet Her head was well set upon the 
shoulders; small, excepting where the intellectual faculties 
were largely but not prominently developed. Her eyes 
were brown, large and brilliant, and seemed to read your 
inmost thoughts. One felt that everything had to be told; 
if only half a thought were spoken, she would divine the 
remainder. 

Though she had a keen sense of wit and humour, in 
quiet moments her eyes were rather distinguished by sadness, 
as though the mind were occupied with the momentous 
issues of life, and found there much cause for sorrow and 
thought. Her prevailing expression was one of absolute re- 
pose; no doubt partly the result of a life lived to a great 
extent in the retirement of her study. When writing became 
a serious occupation, her strength did not admit of anything 
else. Even after a quiet evening with friends she occasionally 
suffered from nervous exhaustion that almost felt like death 



36 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

itself. At such times she could only lie back in her chair, her 
eyes closed, a soft flush upon her face, until rest restored 
her. Fortunately she had a great reserve of vital power. 

But her calmness and serenity in a great measure came 
from within. Her whole life, with its cares, responsibilities, 
and joys, was taken to a higher Refuge than any to be found 
on earth, and there rested in perfect trust. One of her favourite 
hymns was Cowper's "God moves in a mysterious way," 
especially the verse — 

** Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take ; 
The clouds ye so much dread 
Are big with mercy, and shall break 
In blessings on your head." 

In her saddest hours she acted up to this, in the letter and 
in the spirit. Nay, it seemed the greater the trouble, the 
firmer her faith. 

From the age of thirteen to seventeen most of her life 
was spent upon her reclining couch. No doubt this very 
much helped to bend her mind in the direction it was to take, 
just as Scott's long illness about the same age developed 
his own powers of romance. It also largely gave her that 
matured habit of thought and judgment which afterwards 
distinguished her. 

At the age of seventeen the curvature became con- 
firmed and settled ; she was pronounced cured ; that is, she 
ceased to suffer. Nothing more could be done ; it was no 
longer necessary to be always reclining ; but the defect was 
there. In earlier life it was not very apparent ; the curvature 
was inward^ not outward — less conspicuous but more fatal. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 37 

At first very little seemed wrong with the figure, saving that 
she remained small and short, her height never exceeding five 
feet. But, the spine excepted, she was so perfectly formed 
that her movements were graceful and dignified, and caused 
her to look taller than she really was. Her constitution was 
remarkably sound, but henceforth the body was to be frail, 
delicate, without muscular power. She could never raise the 
most ordinary weight, or carry anything heavier than a small 
book or a parasol. 

But who shall measure the pain to the sensitive spirit, 
when, growing into womanhood, she realised that she was never 
to be quite as others : with all her love of beauty and perfec- 
tion, she herself in form was never to be perfect ? It was more 
or less a lifelong sorrow. To these highly-strung tempera- 
ments, shrinking in acute self- consciousness from the slightest 
pity, the knowledge of a personal defect brings suffering 
none can realise who are not similarly constituted. Of Lord 
Byron it was said that his deformity changed the whole 
course of his life, affecting all his mental and moral dis- 
position; and probably it was so. With Ellen Price it 
certainly added greatly to her sensitiveness, and caused her 
to be painfully conscious of remark. She felt that, disguise 
it as she would, she must pass through life with a defect 
which must be ever more or less apparent. Her refine- 
ment and imagination only exaggerated the evil. It really 
was no evil whatever; was never in the least degree un- 
sightly, never took from her gracefulness ; but she did not 
think so, and could not be made to think so, and the defect 
assumed undue proportions. She never spoke of it — prob- 



38 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

ably never could have spoken of it ; but we know how she felt 
it, and in one of her characters one gathers what it was to her- 
self. Lucy Cheveley, in Mildred Arkelly might almost have 
been the counterpart of Mrs. Henry Wood, as she is there 
described ; and we may be sure that the sensitive pain attri- 
buted to Lucy Cheveley was written from the experience and 
emotions of the author. 

The cause of this spinal failure was never quite known. 
It may have owed its foundation to Mrs. Tipton's throwing 
the child over the hedge to save her from a still worse 
evil. Or it may have been inborn, only waiting time for 
development. The strength and activity of the brain may 
have proved too much for the weaker physical powers. 
Many writers have suffered in the same way. It was said by 
one who had been intimate with all three, that if you followed 
Miss Mitford, Mrs. Barrett Browning, and Mrs. Henry Wood, 
the ladies walking side by side, you could scarcely have told 
one from the other, so much alike were their figures. 

We can speak of a fourth from experience — Julia Kavanagh. 
She once told us that in early life she suffered exactly as Mrs. 
Wood had suffered ; but she was even smaller and shorter, and 
the mischief in her case was more evident. 

With her also it may have had something to do with her 
singular death. For long she had suffered from constant 
neuralgia, and leaving Paris, where she and her mother had lived 
for many years, they went to Nice and made it their home, 
hoping illness would yield to the softer climate. It only grew 
worse, though her health seemed otherwise perfect, and she 
continued to write. She was still only in middle-age. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HHNRY WOOD " 39 

One morning, about three o'clock, her mother heard a 
sound in her daughter's room as of a fall. Hastening in, she 
found her lying upon the floor, but quite conscious. 

"O mamma," she laughed, speaking in French, their 
habitual language, " how foolish I am to have fallen. And the 
strange thing is that I do not know why I am out of bed or 

m 

how I got here." 

" My dear," said the alarmed mother, " do you feel ill ? " 

"I feel perfectly well," returned Julia Kavanagh. "And 
I cannot imagine what brings me here." 

But at five o'clock that afternoon the gentle spirit passed 
away, apparently for no physical reason ; the doctors could call 
it nothing but a crise nerveuse, Mrs. Kavanagh, herself aged 
and nearly blind, never recovered the blow. Though she lived 
on for many years, she scarcely ever smiled again; and her 
daughter's image seemed never absent from her thoughts. 
The life of the mother had been unusually sad and unhappy, 
and her daughter was the one bright spot in her existence, 
her constant, close companion, with kindred intellectual tastes 
— for Mrs. Kavanagh also was a woman of great imagination 
and wrote charming fairy tales. 

Julia Kavanagh's deformity was very apparent, but she was 
one of the most delightful, gentle, and intellectual of women. 
The lower part of her face was uninteresting ; the jaw massive 
and powerful; the upper part beautiful. "The intellectual 
faculties largely developed — and no doubt the moral also," 
said Charlotte Bronte, looking steadfastly at her the first 
evening they ever met — at Thackeray's house in London : a 
remark Julia Kavanagh thought somewhat singular. Never- 



40 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

theless it was true. She too had large wonderful brown eyes, 
with a singular softness and sweetness about them, through 
which one saw shining a spirit of purity and earnest devotion : 
a certain sadness also, as if she knew that, not being as others, 
she was cut off from their fate and fortune, and the love dramas 
and earthly happiness she was so fond of describing could never 
be hers. To a casual observer her face remained plain, with 
its dark brown complexion ; it was only when you came to 
talk to her that you saw its beauty — the fine eyes, the noble 
expression, the magnificent head crowned with massive coils 
of rich black hair. 

Probably she also felt keenly her deformity, for it was 
very conspicuous. And as human nature always wishes for the 
impossible, and those joys seem brightest and best which are 
never to be ours, so Julia Kavanagh may have felt a longing 
for the closest of earthly companionship, for ever denied to her. 
In many a short poem, such as the following, she would express 
her thoughts and emotions : poems unknown to the world, but 
possessing sweetness and sadness; that, above all, are suggestive. 

** I do not love, yet there are days 
When, if I hear a footstep come, 

My heart will beat ; 
When with bent ear and dreamy gaze, 
For what I know not, nor for whom, 

I sit and wait. 



(( 



I do not love, but there are nights 
When my soul melts in thought so sweet 

I cannot sleep ; 
When my heart throbs with vague delights, 
That with vague sorrows blend and meet, 

Until I weep. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 41 

" I do not love, but morns there are 
That in my soul a sunshine make, 

And seem to say, 
* Thy life will boast another star — 
A loved and unknown voice shall wake 

Thy heart to-day.' 

** Alas ! that blest mood may not last ; 
Though step should come I heed it not ; 

Cold grows my heart. 
Love, dost thou come and go so fast, 
And art thou. Love, as soon forgot. 

As cold depart ? " 

The first three verses show longing and capacity for 
affection ; the last and somewhat vague verse, the folly of hope- 
less desires. Had Julia Kavanagh cultivated the talent 
she might have taken rank as a poetess, for she pos- 
sessed a true poetic touch ; but writing was not only a 
labour of love with her, it was a necessity. By it she made a 
lifelong home both for her mother and herself; and perhaps 
the most beautiful trait in their lives was their utter devotion 
to each other. They both sleep in the cemetery at Nice, over- 
looking the blue waters of the Mediterranean, beneath a white 
canopy of marble — a magnificent monument which was raised 
by the mother to the memory of the daughter, and for which she 
denied herself all luxuries. It might truly be said of them as 
of Saul and Jonathan, that "lovely in their lives, in their 
deaths they were not divided." For although Mrs. Kavanagh 
lived some years after her daughter, her spirit ever seemed 
anticipating the moment of reunion. 

After Julia Kavanagh's death her mother sent to the writer, as 
remembrances of a very close friendship, many of her MS. poems. 



42 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

which had never seen daylight ; poems tender and trae, full of 
passionate longing for the beautiful and the eternal. Equally 
charming were many water-colour sketches of lovely scenes 
taken by Julia Kavanagh during their residence in the Two 
Sicilies, proving how diversified was her talent; whilst a book 
of devotions sent with them was illuminated by her with a skill 
worthyofthemonksofold. The possessionof exceptional powers 
too often seems purchased at the expense of physical strength. 
Exertion becomes impossible. It was so with Julia Kavanagh 
and with Mrs, Henry Wood ; we know that it was so with 
Mrs. Barrett Browning, and it may have been so with 
Miss Mitford. With Mrs. Wood the frailty of the body 
was so great that every word of East Lynne, and of many 
of her novels, was written in a reclining chair, her manuscript 
upon her knees. 




CHAPTER V 

" That loss is common would not make 
My ovm less 'bitter, rather more : 
Too common ! Never rooming wore 
To evening, but some heart did break." 

When Ellen Price 

was passing out of 
childhood into the 
sweet daysof'maiden 
meditation," trouble 
visited her home 
Not the overwhelm- 
■ ing trouble that has 
come to so many 
homes in the world, 
when they have had 
to be broken up, their 
members scattered 
abroad, and the 
w,TIl^■L,To^. places that knew 

them know them no more ; nothing of this serious nature ; 

yet trouble sufficient to make a marked change in the life of 




44 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

the sensitive girl, whose only care hitherto had been the spinal * 
delicacy from which she had slowly and only partially re- 
covered. 

It was about this time that Huskisson with his ideas upon 
free trade opened the British ports for the introduction of 
foreign goods. The immediate effect upon English glove 
manufacturers was disastrous, and is too well known to need 
description here. Men of limited works and means were 
ruined and disappeared at once and for ever. Others, more 
wealthy, kept on, hoping against hope, only to disappear in 
their turn. Those who weathered the storm did so at 
immense sacrifices. 

Amongst the last was Mr. Price. We have said that he 
was ever considerate towards those who had no resisting powers 
of their own. He was now to prove the reality of his sympathies 
by a severe test. 

As soon as the ports were opened, Mr. Price, from a 
worldly point of view, would have done well to close his 
works and retire; his fortune was large. But nothing was 
further from his intention. To discharge his men in the 
present crisis was to consign them to the poverty now reign- 
ing in Worcester. It was also supposed that as soon as 
the evil was realised the ports would be closed again ; but for 
years the manufacturers went on hoping against hope. In 
that crisis numberless weeks passed, and Mr. Price lost, week 
by week, a sum that in itself was a small fortune : preferring 
to do this rather than sacrifice his workpeople. Matters had 
grown more and more serious around them, and thousands of 
working men and women were starving. Huskisson saw his 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 45 

mistake when it was too late. Even then it was not at once 
rectified, and though it had been, ruined masters could not be 
restored to prosperity. Numberless operatives were scattered 
over the land, finding other occupations, or dying of despair 
and want. Mr. Price felt the blow keenly, but was not over- 
whelmed. Yet he paid a great price for this generous con- 
duct, for when the crisis was over he thought it right to 
diminish his household and live in a simpler manner than 
of old. The wealth lost was never recovered. The home 
was still happy and abundant; it was a mere question of 
degree ; in comparison with the ruin around there was every 
cause for gratitude. But it was a great sacrifice, and had 
the struggle continued very much longer, it is questionable 
how far it would have been justified. Mr. Price enjoyed that 
earthly blessing, an easy competency, to the last ; but it was all 
very different from what had once been. 

Probably few living remember the devastation and ruin 
that came at this time to many of the manufacturing towns of 
England. -In Mrs, Halliburton's Troubles Mrs. Henry Wood 
has given a detailed description of the industries, their ways 
and works; and in Mildred Arkell — more especially the 
chapter headed "A City's Desolation" — she has described 
the hopelessness that fell upon so many when the ports were 
opened. 

All this trouble only drew the father and daughter 
more closely together. She was of an age now to enter 
into his deeper thoughts and sympathise with his cares. 
Their readings took a higher flight, and she had gained 
a good deal of classical knowledge. The foundation of 



46 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

this had been laid in bygone evenings, when the father 
would have before him his young sons — some of the College 
boys Mrs. Henry Wood describes so vividly — and help them 
in their Latin and Greek difficulties. The daughter was 
always present on these occasions, and very soon knew more of 
the dead languages than her brothers. Nothing else was taught 
in the College School in those days ; for English and accom- 
plishments the boys had masters at home. 

Father and daughter had many a long and anxious 
conversation upon the falling houses and crumbling fortunes 
around them, the suffering and privations of the working 
classes, an evil too great for private charity. That those 
times and evils sank deeply into the heart of Ellen Price is 
proved by the vivid pictures she drew of them more than thirty 
years after they had passed away. There was also her memory 
to trust to, which as we have said was remarkable. She never 
forgot a person once met or a story once heard. Many of 
those around her had marvellous and romantic histories, 
every detail of which was remembered without effort. It 
was the same with all whom she only knew by report. 
She could go through hundreds of histories in this manner, 
and years afterwards would remember names, places, and 
details of people with whom she had never come into con- 
tact. No doubt this was of great use to her in later life, and 
caused her to work fact and fiction together in that singular 
way which makes her novels dramas of real life, so that, as 
the Athencmm once said : " The power to draw minutely and 
carefully each char cuter with characteristic individuality in 
word and action is Mrs, Henry JVood^s especial gift. This 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 47 

endows her pages with a vitality which carries the reader to 
the end, and leaves him with a feeling that the veil which in 
real life separates man from man has been raised, and that 
he has for once seen and known certain people as intimately 
as if he had been their guardian angel. This is a great 
fc^cinationJ^ 

But this sweet companionship was about to be interrupted 
for ever. Time was steadily flowing on, and bringing its in- 
evitable changes. Ellen Price had grown to young woman- 
hood, her earnest, thoughtful eyes occupied with the mysterious 
problems of life; herself conscious of all the issues of exist- 
ence for good or ill; keenly alive to personal responsibility 
and influence. She had had two homes, and was soon to 
have a third. 

There had been the first home with the gentle and refined 
grandmother, the grandfather who too soon had passed out 
of existence. This had lasted for seven years, and in after 
days Mrs. Henry Wood was wont to say that every seven 
years brought some important change in her life. It was so 
until seven times seven years had passed away ; after which life 
to the end flowed on in an even current, still marked by many 
cares and sorrows, but no dramatic changes. 

Next there had been the life in her own home ; com- 
panionship with the beloved father: year after year growing 
dearer to him as mind and spirit developed. There had 
been the long, careful training of the intellect ; years of quiet 
study with her governess, and frequent escape in the father's 
sanctum ; ending as the years went on in becoming his almost 
constant charge and companion. There had been the years of 



48 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

delicacy and enforced bodily inactivity, terminating as we have 
seen. There had come the sad crisis when the English ports 
were opened, and all her keen sympathies, all her capacities 
for sorrow and suffering were drawn out towards those in 
despair and desolation around her ; the interior abundance of 
her own home only making the exterior misery more vividly 
realised. 

All this life, this home life, this cathedral life, associated 
with her earliest recollections and affections, entwined about 
her heart-strings for all time, was to be interrupted and 
given up. The whole scene and current of her existence was to 
undergo a complete change. Other tongues were to sound in 
her ears, and faces never before seen, and manners and customs 
hitherto unfamiliar, were now to take the place of people and 
places which had made her earthly happiness. 

Had she quite realised all the transition meant, would she 
have found courage to take the step ? Perhaps it is doubtful ; 
but whether the cost was counted, the step was taken, and 
Ellen Price became Mrs. Henry Wood. It was perhaps 
no marvel where the courage came from, for her husband 
was one of the handsomest and most charming of men. 
The portrait given of Mr. Wood was taken shortly before his 
death, after the commencement of his last illness. That ill- 
ness had changed him almost beyond recognition; he had 
suddenly passed from youth to age ; but the fineness of the 
features and the intellectual development of the head are still 
evident, though the charm of youth has fled. 

The scene of Mr. Henry Wood's life was laid abroad. The 
term sounds distant and formidable, but means nothing more 




^^' ,r/^-'~ . 



}A^ iri'lNRY WOO 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 49 

remote than the south of France. Yet in those days it took as 
long to reach the Riviera by easy stages as it now takes to 
get to Egypt. Railways had not come into use, revolution- 
ising the world with changes good and evil. 

Mr. Wood was at the head of a large banking and 
shipping firm, and was in those days, though young, a man of 
weklth and influence. Later on, for a short time, and solely 
with the idea of being useful, and not for remuneration, he 
joined the Consular Service ; and it was said by Lord Palmer- 
ston that he had never received such clear and satisfactory 
reports, such excellent suggestions, as those sent in by Mr, 
Henry Wood. So high an opinion had he of his abilities 
that he pressed him to take up a more public life. But this 
did not enter into Mr. Wood's ambitions, and he never did so. 
He retired early from work and activity, and died com- 
paratively young. 

In choosing his wife from Worcester, it was a singular 
coincidence that he was somewhat nearly related to one who 
bore his name and was for many years a Canon of Worcester 
Cathedral. Another coincidence was that in marrying Miss 
Price he was marrying into an old family name, though they 
were not in any way related. He was heir to a considerable 
property left by an ancestor named Price, who in 1741 went 
out to India as Governor of Surat, and died in 1780, leaving a 
large possession which, never claimed by his descendants, re- 
mained in the hands of the East India Company until it passed 
over to the Government, where it still remains. 

On the morning of the marriage a slight but amusing incident 
occurred. It had somehow gone abroad that the marriage 

4 



50 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

would take place at St Peter's Church, in the Faithful City, 
and at ten o'clock the church was crowded. Instead of 
which the carriages quietly drove off to Wittington, a pretty 
suburb of Worcester now given over to modem villas, where 
in presence of a few friends Miss Ellen Price and Mr. Henry 
Wood were made man and wife. The bride was dressed 
according to the fashion of the time in a white silk dress and 
white silk bonnet, trimmed with orange blossoms. Very often 
the brides of that day were married in their riding habits. 

Mr. Henry Wood was a man of great powers of mind, but 
the exact opposite to his wife. Whilst she was full of romance 
and ideality, he had not a spark of imagination, scarcely any 
sympathy with the gift. In this one point they were not well 
matched. It was an effort to him to read a novel ; poetry he 
never looked at ; abstruse books of science were his delight. 
Yet in social life he was the gayest of the gay, the soul of wit 
and conversation ; the leader of society ; but — as time was to 
prove — possessing a mind a little wanting in ballast. 

He had a great gift for languages and spoke several fluently, 
French especially. No Frenchman, hearing him for the first 
time, believed him anything but a fellow-countryman. And 
he possessed not only the gift of tongues, but of language : 
he was a first-rate public speaker, and a great politician on the 
Conservative side — although he managed to gain favour with 
Lord Palmerston. 

He possessed another gift also, amounting to genius — that 
of medicine ; loving it for its own sake. Out of pure devotion 
to the science, when he was about eighteen he walked the 
hospitals of London, performed operations, went through the 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 51 

whole curriculum. And this not with any idea of practising, 
for he never practised, never intended to do so ; he simply was 
happy in it. He was a great friend of the late Sir William 
Lawrence, who in the only illness he ever had — through being 
put into a damp bed — until his last and fatal malady, saved 
his life. He possessed all the strength of a man with the 
tenderness of a woman — gifts so wonderfully useful had he 
followed the profession for which Nature had most gifted him. 

Though he never practised, perhaps one exception might 
be made to the assertion. As long as he lived no doctor was 
needed in his own house, as far as his children were concerned. 
This was fortunate, for, living abroad, they would otherwise 
in their childish illnesses have been at the mercy of the 
French physicians, who in those days as often killed as 
cured. It was, in fact, the fatal treatment of a French doctor 
which determined him for ever after to trust to himself rather 
than to them. 

A little daughter fell ill with scarlet fever. Mr. Wood, 
then a young man, feared to trust himself with so much 
responsibility. He was passionately devoted to the child, 
who has been described as very sweet and lovely. People 
remarked that she was too good to live ; and their prophecies 
were soon fulfilled. 

The doctors treated her according to the fashion of the 
day. They first starved her almost to death, and, when she 
was sinking from exhaustion, ordered leeches to be applied to 
the throat. The faithful French head nurse, who was then a 
member of the household and has ever since belonged to it, a 
true and firm friend now of patriarchal age, protested in vain. 



52 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

" Sir," she cried to her master in agonies of grief, " do not 
allow it. If leeches are used, the child will die. I know it 
from experience." 

But she was powerless. The leeches were applied, the little 
throat closed up, and the child died. The father's sorrow 
was so great it was almost feared that he would die also. The 
faithful nurse was almost equally stricken. She was one of 
those strong and determined characters who must have their 
own way in everything: the under nurses had to obey her 
every look and word — even the mother's authority in the 
nursery was quite a secondary consideration. 

But she was as tenacious in her aflfections as she was 
strong in character. None but herself was allowed to perform 
the last sad office for the pure and beautiful little creature 
who had gone to a better world. With her own hands she 
placed her in her little coffin, watched over it night and day 
until the little body was consigned to the earth and hidden 
away from mortal eyes for ever. There in a foreign grave she 
sleeps. 

But Mr. Henry Wood had had enough of foreign doctors. 
The day his little daughter died his son was taken ill with 
the same fever. " This," he mournfully said, *^ shall be my care. 
Come what may, I will have no more French doctors in the 
house." And before long the child was well again and running 
about. 

Years afterwards, when another daughter was born to them, 
Mr. Wood — who regarded his wife as a woman far above 
rubies, and ever thought the world contained none like her — 
insisted that the name Ellen should be repeated. His wife, 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 53 

whose vivid imagination perhaps inclined her to superstition, 
hesitated. A compromise was at last agreed upon by the 
addition of Mary ; and Ellen Mary she was christened. Had 
he been blessed with twelve daughters instead of two, prob- 
ably every one of them, amongst other names, would have 
borne that of Ellen. Liquid and flowing, the name exactly 
suited Mrs. Henry Wood; expressing her own gentle, quiet, 
retiring nature. 

It was about this time that Mrs. Wood — apart from the 
spinal trouble of her childhood^had her first and serious 
illness, during which for many months her life hung in the 
balance. After the birth of one of her children, she fell into 
a state of great delicacy and debility. The previous loss of 
her little daughter had proved a grief that had tried her much. 
When her strength failed, she found that she was unable to 
rally. Day by day the doctors watched her, and day by day 
they feared a decline. Her husband was in despair : to lose 
wife as well as child would have been overwhelming, ^et 
no care seemed to avail. Half his time was spent by her 
side, endeavouring to raise hope and courage. When she 
grew too weak to walk, none but himself was permitted to 
carry her from her bedroom to her drawing-room, and she was 
as a child in his arms. There he would place her gently upon 
her couch, and arrange her cushions twenty times in a day with 
all his extreme tenderness and care. The weakness and pro- 
stration were so great that she could only lie day after day 
perfectly still and passive, her hands idle. She had no power 
to hold the smallest volume. In subdued tones her husband 
read aloud to her as long as she could bear to listen; or 



54 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 



would sit down to the piano and very softly and quietly sing 
her favourite songs, trying to wean her thoughts into brighter 
grooves. This illness lasted altogether for nine months, when 
health and strength gradually returned, and the shadow was 
lifted from the home. 

Amongst the many charms that distinguished hei was a 
very rare one. She had little ear for music, could not sing a 
note ; but in speaking her voice was music itself. Sweet, 
clear and distinct, it was like a silver chime in the house. 
Once heard, it was not easily forgotten ; its beauty remained. 
To the writer it is as audible as when, seven years ago, in 
this world it was hushed for ever. 




CHAPTER VI 



" And was the day of my delight 

As pure and perfect as I say ? 
The very source and founi of Day 
Is dash'd with wandering isles of night." 




loved her own way still more. A 
never lived, happily guided by a 



We have spoken of 
the French nurse who 
had so grieved for 
the loss of the little 
child. She was, in her 
way, a very remark- 
able woman, and so 
much a part of the 
family all the days of 
her life, that a few 
words about her will 
not be out of place. 

Like every one 

else, she worshipped 

her mistress, but 

more determined will 

fine intelligence, A 



56 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

faithful, self-sacrificing, duty -fulfilling woman, neither time 
nor infirmities would have separated her from her beloved 
masters and charges; but departing once for a holiday to 
her native French village, when quite middle-aged, she was 
wooed and married before she had time to realise what she 
had done. 

When asked a reason for her folly, all she could answer 
with tears was that she dreaded the time when old age would 
perhaps only make her an encumbrance to those she delighted 
to serve. Her married life was happy but short; she was 
soon left a widow. But dropped threads cannot always be 
taken up again, and she did not return to her former scenes. 
A neat cottage was found in her own village, picturesque with 
thatched roof and white-washed walls, reposing in a garden 
well stocked with flowers and fruit-trees, and comfortably 
furnished. Superannuated by those whom she had so faith- 
fully served all her best days, and left in a moment of weak- 
ness, but for whom, nevertheless, she would have suffered 
martyrdom, she was installed — and was not unhappy. There 
she yet lives, the great lady of her surroundings. 

Her charges had always been her children^ and those yet 
living are so still. Since her marriage she has had many red- 
letter days, when she has paid them a month or two's visit in 
their own homes ; but on more frequent occasions they have 
crossed the water to her village of Landry for the sake of 
spending a few hours with her: hours that would bring a 
whole yearns sunshine and happiness to the faithful woman's 
heart and home. 

Like the best of humankind, she had her faults, and one 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 57 

of them was a jealous temper. Die for you, go through fire 
and water — that she would have done ; but deprive her of her 
smallest claim upon your affections, and she could neither 
forget nor forgive. For this reason she never forgave herself 
for marrying when she considered herself old enough to have 
done with the frivolities of life. She would listen to neither 
rhyme nor reason where her heart or power was concerned. 
Sole mistress of her kingdom she would reign, and she ruled 
with the rod of a kindly despot. 

In after years if one of her children, as Joachine always called 
them, was about to be married, so momentous an event could 
not be legal without her presence. That the Channel now 
divided them was only the more reason for a great effort. 
The crossing was almost death to her, but she was ready 
to brave even that. She would arrive with great ceremony, 
magnificent in long gold earrings — the pedigree of the French 
of her class — rustling in a new silk gown, made for the occa- 
sion and afterwards religiously reserved for village high days 
and holidays, the awe and worship of her friends and neigh- 
bours, who looked upon her as a being translated to a sphere 
above them. A woman who had travelled, had seen the 
wonders of the world, had gained a knowledge of life, a certain 
refinement, a degree of learning and savoir faire — all this 
exalted her to the dignity of a village oracle. 

A great event on one of these visits was the occasion of 
her being photographed. The importance of the ceremony ; 
the difficulty of getting the exact pose ; the adjustment of the 
magnificent cap, and the due prominence of chain and 
earrings; her anxiety lest a fold of the incomparable gown 



58 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

should be out of place — all had to be satisfactorily adjusted 
by the artist with the patience of a Job. When the result 
arrived in due time her surprise and delight were un- 
bounded. She gave out a long series of disjointed exclama- 
tions, pausing to think and admire between each sentence, 
finally ending with : — "It is not so very surprising after 
all that my poor husband married me in middle age. 
I used sometimes to wonder whether my money had any- 
thing to do with it, but I really think it may have been only 
myself." 

Perhaps it was a little of both. The husband, a superior 
man for his station, would launch out in small experiments 
which always failed. In this way he had wasted his sub- 
stance; and in like manner Joachine's savings had melted 
before she became a widow. 

The return to her village after one of these visits was the 
dark hour of her life, and many a secret tear must have been 
shed on the lonely journey. Yet at the end there was the 
homage of her little world awaiting her — a succession of village 
levies, in which the charm of reigning no doubt helped to heal 
the wounds of separation. 

Then, as the years went on, another generation arose which 
knew her not, and the occasional visits to her had to be 
reinforced. In the first of these the infirmities of age and 
rheumatism were beginning to tell upon her; she walked 
with a stick. According to custom, she stood in her doorway 
awaiting the arrival, pale, agitated, and eager-looking: her 
brother, who lived with her, standing on one side, and a niece, 
who "kept house" for her, on the other. After due saluta- 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 59 

tions, she sat down to recover her equanimity, and shed a few 
tears of regret for her lost kingdom. 

The first emotion over, happiness reigned. Joachine, as 
ever, was always the pink of perfection and neatness. Not a 
hair unsmoothed, not a crease in the snow-white cap and 
ribbons, not a fold out of place in the gown ; chain and 
earrings in all their glitter and glory. Ever the same good 
face — now pale and subdued, calm and placid with age, yet 
with something of youth remaining in spite of her eighty 
years ; the same kindly blue eye, from which all the fire of 
other days had departed ; the same dome-like forehead, with 
ample room for thought, an indication of the strength of 
character that once brooked no interference from equal or 
superior. Such she was ; such she is still — a little younger- 
looking, perhaps, than she was ten years ago, but otherwise 
unchanged. 

All her life she had had a great fear and horror of death, but it 
has recently gone from her ; and in a letter lately received, for 
the first time she alludes to it voluntarily. " Is it possible," 
she remarks, "that I shall have the happiness of seeing you 
once more before I set out upon my last long journey?" 
— signs, one would think, of an approaching change, since 
coming events so often cast their shadows before. 

The cottage found for her was like herself — perfection in its 
way, and in its manner of keeping. The door opened on to 
the living room : a quaint picturesque rooni, with sanded floor 
and a ladder staircase leading to the loft ; the wooden ceiling 
supported by cross beams, and almost the whole of one side 
of the room given up to the huge chimney. Opposite the door 



6o MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

a wide latticed window looked out on the garden — flowers, 
vegetables, and fruit-trees : spreading branches that in season 
groan under the weight of pears, apples, and rich red plums. 
On one certain visit when all the fruit-trees were in blossom, 
Joachine sitting beneath them in her little avenue, the brilliant 
sunshine flecking the path with lights and shadows, formed 
a picture to which few artists could have done justice. 

Peat, braise, and wood sent up a pleasant odour from the 
hearth, and would stir into a bright flame and a thousand 
sparks. On one side, within the chimney, was an arm-chair for 
Louis, the brother, in which, his day's quiet work done — tend- 
ing his garden, feeding his pigs, and making himself generally 
useful — he smoked his pipe, caressed his dog, and meditated ; 
for the whole family have been noted for their reflective 
intelligence. On the other side of the hearth a low chair for 
Joachine. Here she would often sit at night, when the others 
had long gone to rest, and brood over bygone days, her active 
and eventful life. Sometimes she would fall asleep and 
wake up in darkness, the night far spent, the fire out. As 
Malvina, her niece, once quaintly remarked, she might do it 
once too often, and awaken one morning paralysed with cold 
or burnt to a cinder. But Joachine had still a will of her 
own, and would not be turned. 

There was a long table under the window, and when the lid 
was removed it disclosed a trough for bread-making. On 
baking days Malvina would show her good-will towards you 
by making delicious galettes, and presenting them hot and 
smoking from the oven, soaked in the freshest of country 
butter. To the right of this was the door leading to her larder. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 6i 

given up to country fare, and seeing from January to December 
few delicacies. The autumn pig-killing was the great event 
as regards stock provision for the winter. In the way of 
meat it is what most of the villagers depend upon ; and if the 
pig turns out badly it is a sad look-out for the Sundays, high 
days and holidays, of the cold months that have to be lived 
through. 

To the left of the bread-trough is Joachine's bed-chamber 
and state apartment. Here she holds her receptions on such 
occasions as the present. The bed is almost invisible in an 
alcove, adorned with lace and other beautifying material. 
Here too she spreads her banquet for great events ; the tables 
groan under a weight of good things provided by her grateful 
and hospitable heart, set off by snow-white linen and the best 
of Enghsh electro -plate. The walls are lined with portraits 
and framed photographs of all ages and sizes, and of more 
than one generation : those she has served and those she has 
helped to bring up. These she visits regularly, as other 
people do their picture galleries; and so holds mental 
communion with many who have now passed out of her 
everyday life, but who dwell in her faithful heart and memory 
for ever. The photographs begin to look faded and shadowy, 
and, alas ! too many of those they represent have themselves 
passed into the land of shadows. 

If the time were summer and not spring, her dessert-table 
would be adorned with magnificent peaches, plucked by k 
cousin Pascal from his own trees as a delicate attention — 
and nothing could be more delicately offered. 

Pascal is a great man in his humble way : lives in a 



62 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

house better, larger, more important than most in the village. 
His comely wife divides her attention between keeping it 
in order and looking after two fine children, their hope and 
happiness. His garden is full of choice flowers and fruit-trees ; 
his peaches are ambrosia and invariably take the first prize 
at a neighbouring annual show. Pascal farms his own land 
and is his own master; and though he follows the plough 
and works as hard as any labourer, he might if he chose take 
life very easily. His broad forehead and large intelligent blue 
eyes show thought above his class. During the few years he 
went to school he carried everything before him. 

" I don^t know how I did it," he will tell you. " Certainly 
not by industry, for I was idle, and often only looked at my 
lessons on the way to school. If any mischief was going 
on, I was always at the bottom of it Perhaps it is a pity 
I left school so soon. I think so now. But, the mother 
wanted me at home : I was an only child, and she said she 
could not manage without me. On my part, I was glad enough 
to throw up books and live a free country life. So here I am, 
neither one thing nor the other, knowing just enough to wish 
I knew more — or less." 

But Pascal is better than he thinks. He is well up in the 
questions of the day, and talks with sense and judgment. He 
is not a bad musician, and once sketched a plan of the 
roads and turnings of the village that would not have disgraced 
an engineer. When Joachine is disinclined for writing he is 
her secretary, and the result is an excellent letter, partly 
dictated, partly original, in which sometimes her domestic 
details are comically mixed up with his own sowing and reap- 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 63 

ing interests, and the letter reads like a series of parentheses. 
He bought her house, in order that she should have no 
troublesome landlord to deal with; she makes him an ex- 
cellent tenant, and he knows he is sure of his rent. Of a 
younger generation than herself, he gives her the attention 
of a son. 

All this is disinterested goodness, for what little Joachine 
has saved out of her small income will go to her niece 
Malvina, who has devoted her later years to her aunt. 

Perhaps we cannot give a better specimen of her still in- 
domitable will than the following incident, which happened a 
few months ago. 

Joachine, a martyr to rheumatism, had not left the boun- 
dary of her premises for many years. But in 1892 the brother 
Louis died, and before he passed away he exacted a promise 
that she would visit his grave. The cemetery is about a mile 
from her house. But to Joachine, who had not taken ten 
yards in as many years, a mile was an unknown quantity. She 
might as well have attempted to cross the Channel. 

Still she had promised, and she would perform. 

" You will wait until you can have the voiture of le cousin 
Pascal ? " said Malvina, trembling with emotion. 

" I will go on foot and in no other way," returned Joachine 
with all her wonted decision. 

" You will never get there," cried Malvina, aghast. " You 
might as well try to walk to Carcassonne.'' 

" With the help of your arm I shall do it," replied Joachine. 
" Let nothing more be said." 

One morning she rose as usual. " This is the day," she 



64 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

announced firmly — " I shall go to-day to the cemetery. Make 
no objection." 

" Very well," said Malvina, in despair. " Make your toilette, 
and I will accompany you. But I shall take a chair with me 
for you to repose yourself on the road." 

" No chair," cried Joachine. " If you think I am going to 
make myself a spectacle and a byword for the village, you are 
mistaken. I will have no chair." 

"As you please," returned Malvina, courageous from 
desperation. "If the chair doesn^t go, I don^t go. That is 
as true as that I stand here." 

And so at eleven o'clock the house was locked up and the 
trio started : Joachine, Malvina, and the chair. They had not 
gone forty yards before Joachine said, " I think I could take a 
few moments' repose." And Malvina triumphed — the chair 
was accepted. 

So it went on. After infinite labour and time, and much 
laughter on the part of Malvina, in spite of her terror as 
to the consequences of the expedition, the cemetery was 
reached, and the grave duly visited. Joachine was happy : 
she had kept her word ; and before leaving she pointed out 
where she herself desired to be laid when her time came. 
But the return journey ! Malvina thought it would never 
end. Every few yards the chair had to be brought into 
requisition. Once or twice she had to go up to a neighbouring 
cottage and beg wine for her aunt — only top cheerfully bestowed 
upon the village oracle. And so they gradually made way. 
They had left home at eleven in the morning, they reached it 
again at eight at night: nine hours occupied in doing two 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 65 

miles ; the whole time spent upon the road, with the exception 
of one hour in the churchyard. Joachine was assisted to bed, 
where she remained for a week. 

" But I kept my word," she quietly remarks. " I said I 
would go — and I went." 

"And nearly lost your life in consequence,'* Malvina 
as quietly returns. " Was it worth the risk ? We call it the 
great excursion of our life," she laughs, " a veritable journey ; 
and it has since been the talk and wonder of the village. 
Le voyage de Madame Joachine, — it sounds like the title of a 
book or a play." 

Landry is the type and perfection of a French village. 
It is celebrated for its cleanhness, and its simple inhabitants 
pride themselves on that virtue above all others. In spring 
and summer a more charming picture cannot be seen 
than these spotless, white -washed cottages with their black 
casements, green shutters, and well - thatched roofs; reposing 
in gardens where the limes throw out their shadows and their 
perfume, and the trees are laden with blossom or fruit, each in 
its season. 

Life is a haven of peace and repose. The village is 
well-to-do in its way. Some of the women work in the 
fields; others earn a living by cutting and trimming tulle 
for the manufacturers of a neighbouring town. The 
men beat out the flax; and at certain times of the year 
you may hear from the outhouse or barn of almost every 
cottage the swish-swish of the machine at its work. When 
the flax fails, it is hard times with them; the wolf howls at 
many a door. 

5 



66 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

The village extends over a wide area, and is of some 
importance. Away from the houses there are wide marshes 
where you may punt about and be completely hidden by the 
tall reeds that grow in great profusion and magnificence. The 
swish and rustle as you move along is a sound never to be 
forgotten. Many a peat -stack meets the eye, that presently 
will warm the cottage hearths and send its delicious odour 
through open doorways. As you stir the rushes, many a snipe 
springs up and takes its zigzag flight, but fears no gun from the 
simple villagers. The tone spread over the marshes on days 
when the skies are gray is deep and beautiful. 

Landry owns a mayor, who keeps his office year after 
year, is lord of the neighbourhood, and has the largest farm 
for miles round : a magnificent house, which looks exactly 
like one of the cottages twenty times magnified, excepting that 
it has an imposing upper floor and a gray-tiled roof. It 
also has endless barns for cattle and hay, and an immense 
farmyard, kept as much in order as a garden. The 
buildings form three sides of a quadrangle, and the whole is 
enclosed in great green gates which seem encumbered with 
their own magnificence. The walls from beginning to 
end are white as driven snow: the mayor sets his people 
a good example. He is supposed to be fabulously rich, 
and when the villagers speak of him they change their 
tones as they do when talking of kings, or of their patron 
saint. 

He and Pascal are good friends, though the mayor is 
much the greater man of the two, and would scorn to follow 
the plough or wear a blouse. But his intelligent neighbours 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 67 

are few and far between, and, being a man who loves company, 
he cannot be too exclusive. Pascal makes an excellent com- 
panion. Once, years ago, he prophesied the fate of Europe ; 
put chapter and verse together with strange accuracy ; foretold 
troubles in Egypt, complications with Russia, humiliation to 
England. " Pascal, you are a wizard," we said, when all these 
things had come to pass. "You live here from one year's end 
to another, out of the world, with few to share your thoughts 
and opinions, and you know more of the fate of Europe than 
many of her statesmen." 

"That is the very reason," replied Pascal, in his calm way, 
his great blue eyes, with so much width between them, full 
of dreamy intelligence. "I have no one to argue with, no 
opinions to hear on the other side ; so I form my own views — 
such as they are — and keep to them. They are only founded 
upon a little common-sense. When I follow the plough or sow 
the seed, thoughts come into my head unbidden ; I seem to 
see what people will do, how things will turn. I don't 
know chess, monsieur, and never saw it played; but I have 
heard that they who look on see more of the game than the 
players themselves." 

Pascal is a philosopher out of place, intended for greater 
things ; a village Hampden or mute inglorious Milton. Would 
he have been the happier in the higher state ? . Does he know 
anything of the " vague unsatisfied longings " which come to 
those who have missed their mark — or, not having missed it, 
have still found life a disappointment and delusion ? Probably 
not. What he was years ago he is to-day, the embodiment 
of calm contentment. 



68 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

The conclusion of such a visit to Joachine was the trying 
moment. Farewells were taken in the porch, and dimmed 
eyes followed the little procession down the Jong garden path 
to tlie outer gate. Looking back from the end of the lane, one 
saw in the middle of the deserted road a venerable figure, sad 
and solitary, leaning both hands upon her stick, her satellites 
watching from the porch. A turn to the left and all passed 
out of sight ; and Joachine would go back to her chimney-comer 
to realise the happy dream and indulge for many a long day 
and night in the luxury of melancholy. 

And Mrs. Henry Wood, never herself present on these 
occasions, would take special pleasure in hearing all the details 
and circumstances surrounding the life of her old and faithful 
servant. She still lives, but the grasshopper has become' a 
burden and the silver cord is loosening. 




CHAPTER VII 



" And is it that the haze of grief 

Makes former gladness loom so great ? 
The lowness of the present state, 
That sets the past in this relief?" 

When Ellen Wood 
left her early home 
for a foreign land 
not all her affec- 
tion for her husband 
could prevent her 
from being very 
unhappy. She was 
still a young girl, and 
was suddenly trans- 
planted amongst un- 
familiar scenes and 
people, and heard a 
tongue she as yet only 
indifferently under- 
stood and spoke with difficulty. It is true that she very soon 
acquired fluency, but the first months had to be lived through, 
with alt their strange 




70 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

She possessed a delightful home, and became acquainted 
with many charming people who did all in their power to 
make her happy, but whose society she could only in part 
enjoy whilst still unfamiliar with their language. Even the 
very Alpine mountains, which towered about her neighbour- 
hood with their almost eternal snows, and which she soon 
grew to love, at first oppressed her with a feeling of estrange- 
ment. Their very vastness made them cold and unfriendly, 
like the distant sky, the far-off stars. She had never lived in 
a mountainous country, never seen anything higher than the 
Malvern Hills, which always filled her with such solitude 
and depression that to remain in Malvern had often been 
impossible to her. 

The mal du pays which attacks the Savoyard, the yearning 
for his beloved mountains, was as yet a sealed book. The 
time arrived when she grew to understand and sympathise 
with it, but that was still in the future. There came a day when 
a little Savoyard wandering about England, with his dark skin, 
pathetic eyes, and little marmoset — an experience now of the 
past — filled her with strange compassion, and, had she pos- 
sessed the magic carpet, he would quickly have been trans- 
ported to his mountains and valleys, wild streams and placid 
lakes. For Savoie was one of Mrs. Henry Wood's favourite 
countries, and possessed some of her happiest memories. 

Day after day, in that far-off unfamiliar scene, she would 
weep in secret for the home she had left behind; the 
father she tenderly loved, whose daily companion she had 
been ; the intellectual life she had lived with him, which had 
become necessary as daily food ; her beloved Cathedral, with 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 71 

all its ties, social, ecclesiastical, and religious ; the associa- 
tions, romantic and real, within its precincts, from which she 
had never been separated ; all the friends of her girlhood, the 
constant intercourse and companionship which so interested 
her. She had never realised how complete the wrench 
would prove, but it must in truth have been great and bitter ; 
to such a nature as hers almost as the rending of life. A 
new life it was in every possible way, a changing of the old 
order. But time heals all wounds and reconciles us to most 
changes. 

One of her great trials was that she could no longer attend 
divine service. In those far-off days — sixty years ago — things 
were not as they are now. Railways had not annihilated time 
and space and made the impossible easy. The world was still 
ringing with the unfortunate death of Huskisson, and prejudice 
had yet to be overcome. All reforms fight their way through 
transition, and in the process some one must suffer. 

In France travelling was still a very slow affair, only 
possible to people of leisure. There were lumbering dili- 
gences for ordinary folk, but all who were able to do so 
posted. Mr. Henry Wood, then wealthy, generally posted 
in his own carriage with four horses, according to the custom 
of the time in mountainous countries, changing horses at the 
usual stations. 

The young bride, on her way to the South, wrapped in furs 
and surrounded by foot-warmers, found every wish fulfilled 
almost before it was expressed. But it took many days to 
reach her new home, and little wonder if she felt that a world 
of time and distance divided her from the past. 



72 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

They had halted at Lyons for the night, reaching the old 
town as the evening shadows were falling, but it was still 
light enough to see and appreciate its picturesque situation. 
Then, as now, the two broad 'rivers flowed side by side on 
their way to the sea ; one turbid and troubled, the other clear 
and transparent, reflecting the blue sky above. To Mrs. 
Wood they seemed a type of two lives flowing to the ocean of 
eternity : the one dark and clouded, the other pure and stead- 
fast. In rivers and seas she ever delighted. 

They rose early the next morning and breakfasted; a 
hotel carriage was in waiting, and they were driven off" to 
the heights of Fourvibre, that famous hill outside the old town. 
The sun had risen ; the sky was flushed with the splendours of 
morning. Mr. Wood handed his wife from the carriage, and 
led her to the brow of the hill when the view was suddenly 
disclosed. 

In the first moment she almost thought she had left this 
world for another and a fairer, for she looked upon a vision 
of glory. It was a very clear day ; small crimson and golden 
cloud -flakes reposed in the sky; there was not even a 
suspicion of mist upon the earth. Rising before her was 
the magnificent and matchless chain of the Alps, stretch- 
ing far down into Italy, ending with Monte Rosa. They 
were still covered with snow, and the sun had changed 
its white, cold purity to the softest rose-colour. In the far 
distance they seemed to melt into the heavens. At their 
feet lay the old town, the pale smoke of early wood -fires 
curling above the roofs of the houses. Side by side the 
two rivers flowed on, gracefully winding in their courses, 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD . 73 

passing onward through matchless scenery, little known in 
those days, but now world-famed. 

No wonder that Mrs. Wood gazed with silent amaze- 
ment. It was a revelation, this wonderful panorama of snow- 
covered, sun -flushed mountains; a new world, altogether 
beyond anything she had ever imagined. It is certain 
that earth possesses no more marvellous view than this from 
Mont Perrache on a clear day. The scene stirred within her 
everything that was deep and earnest, her most religious 
impressions, all her extreme love of the beautiful and the 
sublime. For one of the few times in her life she was 
moved to tears in presence of another, but many causes 
may have given rise to the moment's emotion. The scene 
suddenly opened up was in every sense a new world to her. 
Then she had undergone many days' travelling — fatiguing 
under all circumstances. They had also had a tiring week 
in Paris : a round of gaieties, introduction to many friends, 
balls and dinner-parties. It is also possible that she was 
beginning to realise how completely her old life had passed 
away, and a new life amongst strange scenes was to be hers. 
But she quickly recovered her composure, and presently they 
turned away from this earthly paradise. 

The whole of that morning was spent in Lyons, and as they 
walked through some of the smaller streets the whir of the 
looms and the sound of the weaver's shuttle issuing from 
doors and windows delighted Mrs. Wood. Ever interested 
in humanity, she could not tire of watching the weavers 
bending over their looms, many of them pale, consumptive- 
looking, almost refined, whilst her husband exchanged pleasant 



74 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

remarks with them. A very different type of workman from 
the English — a people more interesting and more picturesque ; 
everything about them clean and orderly ; their homes bright 
and pleasant, with the advantage of light though relaxing air, 
and brilliant sunshine. 

For the first time she made acquaintance with the silk 
factories of Lyons, visiting and inspecting one or two of 
the most important : sights and sounds and industries that 
must vividly have recalled her old home; though the silk 
factories of Lyons were so essentially different from the glove 
factories of Worcester. It was a visit ever afterwards remem- 
bered Who, indeed, could forget the first vision of that 
glorious Alpine chain, stretching like an enchanted dream far 
down to the sunny skies of Italy ? 

Her next view of the majestic mountains, under whose 
shadow she was now to live, was again an early morning at 
sunrise. It was their last day's journey, and as they neared the 
end her husband, either for business reasons or that he was 
growing impatient to introduce his wife to her new home, 
hurried onwards. Contrary to their usual custom, they had 
posted all night ; the cushions of the carriage so arranged by a 
clever contrivance that the delicate young wife was able to re- 
cline in comfort, thus avoiding a fatigue she could scarcely 
have gone through. 

As dawn broke and the sun rose, Mrs. Wood for the 
second time looked upon a magic world, and was filled 
with wonder. But the scene was no longer that unbroken 
chain which can only be viewed from such a height as 
Fourvi^re. Now the mountains towered about her, raising 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 75 

their lofty snow-crowned heads towards the clear blue skies 
of that southern clime, singularly clear and blue even in the 
early dawn and cold of winter. 

The travellers were surrounded by everything in nature 
that was grand and gigantic. Their road fringed the very 
borders of the mountains, now opening out into smiling valleys, 
now passing into frowning defiles unspeakably magnificent. 
Small chalets here and there dotted the mountain sides, and 
fir-trees grew upon many a slope and scented the cold air 
with their perfume ; but signs of life and habitation were few 
and far between. The wonderful Alps reposing in soli- 
tude seemed wrapped in impenetrable silence and mystery. 
Occasionally a small village would break the monotony : such 
picturesque villages as were then found crossing the highways 
of the country. With interest and anxious curiosity Mrs. 
Wood looked upon this new world, wondering what were the 
people, their ways, thoughts, customs, amongst whom she was 
now to live. 

These village intervals attracted her more than all else; 
for, much as she loved the beautiful in nature, mind and 
sympathies were ever most with men and women. People, not 
places, were her study and delight ; and the villages were so 
many signs and tokens of human life, where many a simple 
tragedy was played out, and many a rustic romance, if they 
could only be known. 

The towering snow-capped mountains were flushed with 
the early sunlight. To our traveller the scene was almost 
overpowering; mile after mile a succession of surprises, the 
road now closing in as though forbidding farther progress. 



76 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

and now, by a hidden turn in the pass, opening out into 
valleys that in their season are warm and lovely and smiling, 
yielding all the beauties of nature and all the fruits of the earth. 

"Is the silence always eternal, always unbroken?" she 
asked, somewhat anxiously; for all through life the silence 
and solitude so often found in nature oppressed her with a 
weight of sadness scarcely to be endured. 

As a younger girl, when the family moved into the country 
for the summer, it occasionally happened that she had to be 
sent home again. The days would pass, and the loneliness, 
the weird mystery and solemnity of the trees, to which every 
one is not susceptible, the absence of life and movement, 
would so affect her that night after night sleep was banished, 
and to remain was impossible. She would return home with 
her governess; and then it was sure to happen that the 
father, who could never bear to be long separated from his 
favourite child, would ere many days return also. 

These were her happiest times ; when every one was away, 
and she had her father's undivided care, his quiet, earnest 
conversation, with which she, of all, was most in touch and 
sympathy. They would spend hours in each other's society ; 
charmed hours ; playing chess, reading and discussing their 
favourite authors, sketching together. Or her father would 
take up his flute, on which he discoursed sweet music, and 
delight her with quiet airs and melodies, of which she never 
tired. Soft music, old ballads and melodies, she loved, but 
nothing loud, such as an orchestra ; and for classical music it 
must be confessed she never cared. The artistic tempera- 
ment she possessed, but not in music. She was extremely 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 77 

fond of the old English ballads; of the Scotch and Irish 
songs, such as " Robin Adair " and " Oft in the Stilly Night/' 
and would listen to them year after year with true pleasure. 
In later years almost her favourite song was the quiet " Bridge," 
set to music by Miss Lindsay. The simple melody and 
pathetic words appealed to her, and evening after evening she 
would ask one of her children to sing it, and would never 
grow weary ; if it happened to be sung when she was not in 
the room, before many bars were over she was almost certain 
to glide in and take her accustomed seat The son in question 
possessed a gift for extemporising; thoughts would flow in 
music brilliant or sad according to the moment, but always 
soft and quiet. To this also she would listen for ever. " That 
to me is real music," she would say ; but from anything loud 
she always retreated. Those were indeed to all about her 
most emphatically les beaux jours de la vie ; ended, alas, for 
ever. All but two of her children have followed her to the 
Silent Land; and the happy days and years, the delightful 
evenings that she filled with a nameless charm, are records 
of the past. 

"Is the silence always eternal, always unbroken?" she 
asked, as she gazed upon the wonderful Alpine chain. " Shall 
we be always surrounded by such solitude ? " 

Her husband smiled. " In the mountains," he replied, " I 
fear there is always more or less unbroken silence and solitude. 
But your home lies in a town, where you will find friends 
whose pleasure it will be to welcome you and make you miss 
as little as possible the home you have left. Many are charming, 
refined and cultivated." 



78 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

" The French are more quickly known than the English," 
she remarked. 

"They are," he returned. "Their temperament is more 
sunny, and quite as constant. You will soon have occupation 
and amusement in abundance — occupation from early morn- 
ing, when, if it pleases you to accompany your housekeeper to 
market, you may improve your French by talking to all the 
old market-women, and listening to their histories." 

" How do you endure the summer in this southern 
climate ? " asked Mrs. Wood, always affected by intense heat 
with a feeling of approaching calamity. She could never 
shake it off, and was incapable of the least exertion. 

"You know that for the summer months we have our 
home in the hills," he replied. "There you will have 
sheltered gardens to wander in at pleasure; all the beauties 
of nature to charm you. It is an earthly paradise. You 
must fill the house with friends, who in turn will like to have 
you at their own homes when you care to change the scene. 
Night and day thousands of nightingales will pour out an unceas- 
ing flood of song ; the groves echo and re-echo with them." 

"And when the song leaves the bird," said Mrs. Wood, 
" what then ? " 

"Then music and melody must be within doors," laughed 
her husband. " Our home must be the abode of harmony." 

Of harmony it ever was. The voice of anger or argument 
was never heard. With a nature self-contained, deeply 
religious, ever conscious of personal influence and responsi- 
bility, it would have been impossible. And melody her 
husband could always supply when other sources failed. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD . 79 

Both for speaking and singing he had a sweet and refined 
voice. 

He in no way exaggerated the beauties and attractions either 
of their summer or winter home, towards the latter of which 
they were now travelling. It was reached about five o'clock in 
the afternoon, when twilight was already beginning to fall and 
clothe everything in its sense of mystery. 

Then began for Mrs. Henry Wood the new hfe in the 
new home. Its first impression ought to have charmed 
her, and probably did so. No pains had been spared in 
arranging her surroundings. The house was large and 
spacious; not a mere "appartement," as is so often the case 
in France, even with the wealthy. A large hall adorned 
with palms and evergreens and a wide old-fashioned stair- 
case led up to the salons decorated with furniture of a 
bygone period. Exquisite flowers perfumed the rooms, and 
these alone must have delighted Mrs. Wood. Quaint old 
china stood upon the consoles and chimney-pieces, and 
empire clocks — less rare in those days — struck the hours on 
silver chimes. The artistic furniture was covered in rich 
amber velvet and satin. Curtains of the same colour and 
material draped the windows. 

As good fortune would have it, from some of these windows 
the view was magnificent. Towering mountains with their snow- 
capped peaks raised their heads towards the heavens, blue and 
brilliant as only the skies of the South can be. Within view 
flowed a stately and beautiful river, here and there spanned 
by an ancient picturesque bridge. Surrounding them were 
other habitations, and in the streets all sights and sounds of 



8o MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

life in which Mrs. Wood ever delighted : an interest which 
never grew less. Her heart-beats kept time and tune to the 
joys and sorrows of humanity as keenly when youth had 
passed and the time of sentiment and romance was no mote 
as in the earlier years. 

Youth is often impulsive and quixotic, but the steady 
purpose of later years proves character ; and it is this wisdom 
of age which makes enduring to the end so difficult With 
Mrs. Henry Wood heart and sympathies were never dulled, 
and youth itself refused to forsake her. The portrait which 
forms the frontispiece to this Memoir was taken when she was 
nearly seventy, but the artist declared that he could find no 
sign or trace of age wherewith to indicate the passing of time. 
Nevertheless, it is a likeness only ; the colouring and expression, 
the life and charm of the face, could not be rendered. 




CHAPTER VIII 



" I know that this was Life,— the track 
Whereon with equal feet we Sired ; 
And then, as now, the day prepared 
The daily burden for the back." 

Days passed into 
weeks and months 
d Mrs. Henry 
Wood grew familiar 
with her beautiful 
surroundings and be- 
came happy. 

There was a great 
deal in her new life 
[hat could not foil to 
appeal to her nature. 
She was devoted to 
her husband, and his 
happiness seemed _ 
bound up in her. 
Many acquaintances became her true friends for life, as in the 
case of Madame de Marseine — with whom we shall presently 




82 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

have to do — ever her earnest and affectionate admirer until 
she followed her sister, Madame de St. Ange, into the land 
beyond the veil. 

Other friends there were who did all in their power to 
make her life amongst them as a long and happy dream. 
Apparently her sojourn might continue there until old age ; 
it seemed improbable, almost impossible, that any change 
could take place ; there was no reason for supposing that it 
need ever come to an end — that the charming homes would 
one day pass into other hands and echo with less musical 
voices. It ought never to have ended, and though in a few 
years all was to pass away, as yet no shadow had fallen before 
the coming events. They were still in the future. 

Friends rallied round her in those early days, and she 
could only be sensible of their great kindness — such kindness 
and charm as only the French can show — and respond to it. 
In a very few months her quick ear and intelligence had con- 
quered the language, and though she never spoke it with the 
purity of her husband's accent, she conversed with almost 
equal fluency. Thus she was soon able to play the part of 
sympathetic hostess to perfection, and enter into all the sparkling 
vivacity of her French acquaintances. 

This facility in speaking greatly added to her happiness. 
She no longer felt as an alien in a foreign land, and grew in 
touch with her surroundings. As France had become the 
country of her adoption, she endeavoured to give it a large 
portion of her heart. And she succeeded. It was her home. 
Here children were born to her, and the heart of the young 
wife and mother entwined itself in the shrine of domestic ties 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 83 

and affection — scenes, to a truly good woman, ever sanctified 
by the holiest and most sacred thoughts and feelings. 

Her life, her occupation, her interests were here. As 
yet she had not begun to write, excepting in secret and 
on rare occasions, and for many a long year to come she 
was not to publish anything to the world ; but she was ever 
conscious of a power possessed by few, and dreamed of 
fame. 

She had quickly identified herself with the interests of the 
humbler classes around her, giving sympathy and help where 
they were needed; finding a ready welcome everywhere; 
charming by the brightness of her presence and her gentle 
animation. The going to market her husband had alluded 
to in that first journey became one of her pleasures. 
She was enchanted with the picturesqueness of the scene; 
the neatness of the comely farmers' wives and daughters; 
the manner in which they arranged their wares, more especially 
the wonderful vegetable stalls — an art peculiar to the South ; 
the sweet scents ^nd colours of the flower-market; and the 
sparkling air and sunshine which threw a magic over all. 

Often she would accompany her housekeeper, another 
servant following with a large basket for purchases. At first 
she thought the housekeeper stern in bargaining with the 
market-women, but soon found the custom universal and 
necessary. Now and then she would gently remonstrate if 
she thought things were going too far, and the housekeeper, 
respectful but uncompromising, had ever the same reply : 
" Je suis la femme de charge de Madame, — il faut faire son 
devoir." 



84 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

But the day came when Mrs. Wood could talk easily 
to the market-women, and then great was her influence. 
There was nothing they would not do for her, and their best 
was put out of sight until they saw her approaching, when 
it was triumphantly brought forth with many a significant 
shake of the head, as if a perfect understanding existed 
between la belle dame and her devoted marchande. 

Sometimes she would quietly summon a servant and depart 
alone, the housekeeper only discovering treachery when 
too late. Then she hastened off with as much righteous 
anger as she dared ; perhaps to find Madame on the threshold 
of the market, returning homeward, amused at the house- 
keeper's concerned expression as she beheld the basket of 
trophies. "Madame would certainly ruin everything; those 
things had been paid for twice over, without doubt. She 
must really appeal to Monsieur to exercise his influence 
with Madame." Fatal argument ; for, if Madame had paid in 
gold for her marketings where she ought to have given silver, 
Monsieur would have declared that his wife, like the king, 
could do no wrong. 

Mrs. Wood's name was a universal stumbling-block amongst 
the tradespeople and market-women of the town. The W was 
impossible and could not be conquered, and the name conse- 
quently underwent strange transformations. The most common 
was Oude; and to "Madame Oude" she frequently responded. 
With others of more imagination it was often distorted into 
Houdst ; and even Loutre became one of her new names. 
The latter was coined with a sort of unconscious revenge by 
an old market-woman who kept a fruit stall and invariably 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 85 

had the best in the market. She was also the largest 
woman in the market, and certainly the ugliest, with an eye 
which had a habit of looking round the corner, whilst the 
other remained true to the centre. This gave her an in- 
conceivably comical appearance, and it was impossible to look 
at her with the gravity due to the gentler sex. 

In consequence of her unusual size, Mr. Wood had given 
her the name of Old Venus ; and as Old Venus she soon 
became universally known. Sometimes a French dame, in 
absence of mind, would address her as Madame Venus, much 
to the old woman's indignation and protest. But continual 
dropping will wear away a stone, and the time came when she 
accepted the name with a good grace. " Old Venus ! " 
she would cry, shaking her fat sides with laughter: "Old 
Venus ! It must be on account of my size — it can't be 
for my beauty. That name comes from Monsieur Loutre, 
I know; no one like Monsieur Loutre pour les petites 
plaisanteries. C'est lui qui nous fait la pluie et le beau 
temps ! " 

Old Venus was one of Mrs. Henry Wood's devoted 
slaves, and no sooner saw her approaching than she would 
descend from her perch, her truly ugly countenance beaming 
with pleasure, sunning over with smiles. Poor Venus recog- 
nised goodness and beauty, and, though the one had been 
denied her, there beat many a less worthy heart in the world 
than hers. " Bon jour, Madame Loutre," she would exclaim, 
her voice gruff and deep, but unmistakably sincere. " Vous 
etes un rayon du soleil au marchd" — a poetical compliment, 
though roughly spoken. " See what I have put aside, hoping 



86 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Madame would pay us a visit this fine morning." Then from 
some invisible recess out would come baskets of exquisite 
fruit, which had to be purchased in return for so much devotion. 

The day came when Mrs. Wood bade farewell to these 
beloved scenes and they knew her no more. Sincere and 
universal was their mourning and lamentation for her de- 
parture, and long she dwelt in the hearts of all. Many of 
her friends she met again in after days, but these faithful and 
humble women never. Long years ago Old Venus departed 
this life; and on her death -bed, some years after Mrs. 
Wood had passed out of her sight, she said to a lady who 
had come to visit her in her sickness, and was acquainted 
with Mrs. Wood : " Ah ! if my ch^re Madame Loutre were 
only in the town and could come to see me, I think I 
should die happy. She was the most beautiful and the 
best lady that ever came amongst us." 

" I will tell her what you say when I next write to her," 
remarked the visitor. 

"Ne manquez pas," returned the old woman fervently. 
"Tell her Old Venus is no more, and that one of her last 
thoughts was of her ch^re dame, and one of her last wishes 
for a look at her lovely face." 

But there were other phases of the life of those days, when 
spring was well advanced and birds were singing. The 
charming face would be no more seen in the streets, and 
Old Venus knew it was useless to put away her best : cette 
bonne Madame Loutre was k la campagne. The scene 
changed to the mountains and one of those old-fashioned 
chiteaux, with high slate roofs and endless rooms opening 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 87 

into each other, in which France delights. The grounds 
were beautifully laid out and surrounded by lovely groves, 
where in the hottest summer days it was ever cool and shady 
and life was full of charm. Whispering pine-trees stood out 
vividly against the blue sky, and the air was always clear and 
exhilarating ; terraces and grounds were adorned with statues ; 
and the distant views were marvellous. 

They looked down upon a valley whence opened out a 
wide-spreading plain, in the midst of which, like a silver thread, 
ran the far-famed river. The gleam of the sun was often re- 
flected upon its waters, and now and then small craft would 
be seen passing to and fro. In the early morning all nature 
far and near would frequently be clothed in a purple haze. 
The colours of sunrise and sunset were often gorgeous and 
flaming, and in these, more than anything else, Mrs. Wood 
delighted. The mountain summits would catch the glow 
of departing day, and everything would change to rose-colour 
or deeper red, dying out in the growing twilight. 

Here and there in the wide plain a distant village reposed, 
its cluster of small chalets the only signs of human life and 
habitation. Morning and evening the blue peat smoke might 
be seen ascending in picturesque forms, and, if you chanced 
to pass that way, the air was full of homely, delicious scent. 
As night closed in, lights gleamed from the little windows 
and open doorways, like distant stars; but they soon dis- 
appeared, and the village became steeped in silence and 
slumber. The villagers, rising at four or five in the morning, 
went to bed at sundown. Darkness would fall quickly in the 
valley where the mountains shut out the twilight. 



88 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

And the nightingales sang for ever, and filled the groves 
with melody. Day and night they never ceased. Myriads of 
birds, apparently intoxicated with their own exquisite sounds, 
they never seemed to sleep ; week after week the song went 
on, ever the same. It never grew wearisome or monotonous ; 
there was no desire for cessation. The sound soothed and 
charmed by day, and at night was a delicious lullaby which 
courted, never banished slumber. Sometimes it would visit 
the dreams and bring visions of Paradise — and for an earthly 
Paradise nothing could exceed this wonderful spot. Ever and 
ever the song of the nightingales echoed far up the heights, 
far down the valley, filling the air with music and the heart 
with rapture. 




CHAPTER IX 



"And many an old pliilosophy 

On Atgive heights divinely sang, 
And round us all the thickel rang 
To many a flute of Arcady. " 

In these days the 
chateau would often 
be filled with 
guests, and groves 
and tetraces would 
be bright with laugh- 
ter and conversation : 
living forms still more 
beautiful than the 
sculptured images 
which never moved 
or changed and 
brought no sense of 
companionship. 
It was here that 
Mrs. Henry Wood first met Madame de Marseine, and the 
two ladies quickly became firm and lifelong friends. The 




^^-%r 



90 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Comte de Marseine owned a chiteau in the neighbourhood, 
some miles distant. Their home was in Paris, but here for 
the summer months they almost invariably came year after 
year. The family had suffered much in days gone by, and 
though still wealthy, had lost much in the political changes 
which from time to time agitated the country. The grand- 
father of the Count who reigned in Mrs. Wood's time had lost 
his life on the scaffold in the Revolution of '93, and but 
for the beautiful and brave Charlotte Corday, who helped to 
bring the frightful events of those days to a close, it might 
have gone more seriously for the De Marseines. 

"My husband's grandmother saw Charlotte mount the 
scaffold," said Madame de Marseine one day to Mrs. Henry 
Wood, when they were talking of Robespierre and the 
Revolution. " She felt a profound compassion for this brave 
young woman who had heroically sacrificed her life for her 
country; and, whatever may be thought of her act, she was 
at least a martyr to her belief. In vain the grandmother's 
friends declared, *Your only safety is in keeping quietly 
out of sight.' • I care not,' was the answer. * They have taken 
my husband, and I have nothing to live for. But I must see 
Charlotte Corday mount the scaffold. Some of her people were 
my friends; her uncle was my sister's confessor; I feel as 
though the knowledge that I am near will be a consolation. 
You may find me a window if you like ; even close the shutters 
if I can see through them ; but she must know that I am there. 
Her confessor is acquainted with me. Let him come that I 
may send her a message ; he is to be trusted. That fiend 
Marat is dead — there will not be many more victims.' So 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 91 

it happened. The window was secured, and the fact was 
secretly intimated to Charlotte Corday through the confessor, 
who himself abhorred the Revolution and all its myrmidons. 
In return she sent my grandmother a message of love 
and thanks, assuring her that she was happy and had no 
desire to live. Her task was performed, in which she con- 
sidered she had been helped by that Heaven to which she 
was hastening." 

"A true heroine," said Mrs. Henry Wood. "And though 
the deed was terrible, the motive was exalted. I cannot 
wonder at old Madame de Marseine's admiration for her. 
Nothing else was possible." 

"Charlotte Corday was indeed a true heroine," returned 
Madame de Marseine. "Well, the eventful morning did not tarry. 
My grandmother had spent much of the night in prayer, hoping 
that by some miracle the morning might bring a change — life 
and escape for her dear victim. It was not to be. The hour 
struck ; the sound of the tumbril was heard ; the fatal proces- 
sion approached ; the mob surged to and fro like a Hving tide, 
many of the multitude no better than demons, others peaceable 
citizens who could do nothing. Charlotte mounted the scaffold 
with a serene expression which told of Divine support and 
undiminished bravery. She looked a beautiful saint as she 
quietly moved towards the dread machine. It is said that 
Monsieur de Paris trembled as his gaze fell upon her, and 
many thought his courage was about to fail. It has also 
been said that, perceiving it, she whispered to him, * Courage, 
mon ami; je vous pardonne, comme je pardonne mes 
ennemis. Faites votre devoir.' How far that may be true 



92 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

I know not; I believe it, for we had it from the confessor, 
who, however, did not attend her to the scaffold ; but I know 
no history that records it. Others have no doubt said the 
same. Then turning, for a moment, to a certain window with 
closed shutters, behind which she knew my grandmother was 
gazing with all her heart in her eyes and all her tears dried 
at their source, Charlotte, raising her arm with a gesture worthy 
of a queen, pointed solemnly towards Heaven, as if to intimate 
that there was her home, and there one day they would meet 
again. A few moments and all was over ; and the crowd waited, 
wondering if another victim was coming and who it would be." 

" And old Madame de Marseine ? " 

" She came to no harm. It was not her fate to die by the 
guillotine. The Revolution was nearly over ; peace once more 
fell for a time upon France. When it did so, my grand- 
mother's courage gave way. She was aged, and the strain had 
been too great. When all danger had passed, the nerves 
relaxed and she quietly faded into the tomb. I never can 
think of that time — that so-called Age of Reason, when Mdlle. 
Aubry was elevated in Notre Dame — or St. Roch, which was 
it ? — as its goddess, without shuddering." 

"It is a sad story," said Mrs. Wood. " The two great 
heroines of France have always deeply interested me — 
Jeanne d'Arc and Charlotte Corday; but in the heroism of 
Jeanne there was a good deal of exaltation, whilst with 
Charlotte Corday it was the opposite. Of gentle birth, accus- 
tomed to self-control, no outward influence upheld her. The 
one was supported by martial music and waving flags and an 
admiring multitude; the other was alone, and all her sur- 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 93 

roundings were depressing. That solitary walk to Paris would 
have been sufficient to quench the ardour of a less brave spirit." 

"More than enough," returned Madame de Marseine; 
"and if my grandmother were here she would go further 
than either of us. She would have her canonised, and placed 
in the front rank of saints. Jeanne d'Arc can never be 
canonised. The Church consented to her death, and can 
never canonise one whose martyrdom it helped to bring 
about. ^ But Charlotte owed nothing to the Church, 
one way or the other; she was, indeed, murdered by the 
enemies of the Church, and so far may be said to have 
assisted its cause." 

"Then why does not the Church in gratitude canonise 
her ? " asked Mrs. Wood. 

"Ah, my dear, we do not always receive gratitude from 
those in high places. Confer a benefit upon exalted person- 
ages, and they too often consider that a favour has been 
conferred upon you. Put not your trust in princes — you see 
I know something of your beautiful Bible. It is always a 
case of wheels within wheels, too. France is republican and 
revolutionary at heart, and at any time monarchy may be a 
thing of the past. The Church knows this and is wise in her 
generation. But the character of Charlotte Corday has never 
been appreciated. It will require the influence of time and 
history to place her in her proper niche. We are still too 
near the glamour of those days to weigh them calmly ; even 
now people cannot judge dispassionately of the Reign of 

^ Recent events seem to contradict Madame de Marseine's assertion ; 
but much is done now that seemed impossible sixty years ago. 



94 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Terror. In fifty years' time, perhaps, they will begin to see 
Charlotte Corday in her true light — one of the best and bravest 
women the world has known." 

Was Madame de Marseine a prophet? More than half 
a century has passed away since those words were spoken : has 
the world awakened to the merit of Charlotte Corday ? 

" A very sad story," repeated Mrs. Wood, " which for ever 
throws a shadow even over the terrible drama of the Revolution. 
My heart has always ached for Charlotte Corday." 

"My dear," returned Madame de Marseine, "let it ache 
no longer. I am many years older than you — old enough to 
be your mother, though still a young woman ; but I have lived 
long enough to learn that life is full of sadness : a life cut 
short is not always to be deplored; and such a history as 
Charlotte Corday's is not the most unhappy. I should not 
have said that twenty years ago, but I say so now, and am 
certain of it. Charlotte met her fate bravely — nothing less 
was possible to so heroic a nature. If she could come to us, 
she would perhaps tell us that her martyrdom was her grandest 
and happiest moment. I think I see her turning to that 
terrible masked figure, whose nerve seemed to give way when 
hers triumphed, and I hear the sweet tones of her voice bidding 
him do his duty. Poems have been written, operas composed, 
plays acted upon Jeanne d'Arc, but Charlotte Corday is re- 
membered only by the few who see her for what she really was." 

Many such conversations confirmed the friendship between 
Mrs. Henry Wood and Madame de Marseine. The Countess, 
in those days, was a woman of some forty years, tall, dignified, 
and commanding — far younger than most Frenchwomen of 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 95 

that age; spiritually and intellectually superior to most of 
her contemporaries. She belonged to an old Breton family, 
and possessed all the best points of her race. She moved in 
the great world of Paris, and was an especial favourite with 
Louis Philippe and Marie Th^r^se, the King always declaring 
that she bore some resemblance to the latter, though in reality 
much better- looking. Every one worth knowing she knew, 
both in the political and social world and the world of letters. 
But she little guessed that the child-like friend at her side 
would also one day become famous, though nearly thirty years 
were first to roll away. 

Yet something of the truth seemed to dawn upon her, 
for one day, looking steadfastly at Mrs. Wood, she remarked, 
^Imost in the words of poor Andr^ Ch^nier, himself a victim 
to Revolution, and touching her forehead with her finger : 

" My dear, I think there is something there ; something in 
that head and behind those eyes which is asking to come out. 
I believe you will one day be a writer, but it will not be a 
political writer. One has only to look at you to see that you 
are all romance and imagination. When that day comes, I 
trust I may still be here." 

Mrs. Henry Wood laughed. Even then, we have said, 
she was conscious of a strange power, but never spoke of 
it, even to her most intimate friend. On this occasion she 
only replied : " Politics are certainly not in my line. And for 
anything else — as far as I can see, my life will be spent amidst 
the Alps and amongst the French — out of touch with all 
English influences. What you think is not likely to happen." 

" One never knows," returned Madame de Marseine, " Life 



96 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

is full of surprises. And you are little more than a child, and 
can bide your time." But the prophecy was long fulfilling. 

" Should you like always to remain here ? " asked Madame 
de Marseine. 

"I am learning to be very happy," was the somewhat 
wistful reply. " I should be ungrateful were it otherwise. 
Every one is good to me, and I am surrounded by all 
that heart can wish for." 

" And you have so charming a husband ! Even I, old 
woman as I am, am fascinated by him. But, my dear, he has 
not your strength of character. II faudra le manager. You 
are young for diplomacy, but tact is bom with us, and for one 
of your age you possess it largely." 

Mrs. Henry Wood's face saddened for a moment. Her 
friend had given expression to what she had already discovered : 
that her husband, delightful in private life, was too amiable to 
be a true, strong man of the world. He would be led rather 
than become a leader. And with her keen insight into human 
nature she saw in such a temperament the possibilities of 
future danger. But she made no reply. Madame de 
Marseine, already firmly devoted to her, a woman of the 
world and of experience, spoke from a loyal motive : Mrs. 
Wood, equally loyal to herself, her husband, and her friend, 
was silent. 

They met frequently. Of all friends Madame de Marseine 
was the one preferred, and they were much together, visiting 
for a few days at a time at each other's houses. The Chateau 
de Marseine was French in every particular, from the interior 
appointments to the regulation of the household. In Mrs. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 97 

Henry Wood's home many English ways and evidences had 
been introduced, and the result was greater comfort — a, more 
picturesque effect than the stiff and conventional French 
arrangement could produce. 

Madame de Marseine always declared that her happiest 
days were spent in the less pretentious but more beautiful 
home of Mrs. Henry Wood. The view also from the terraces 
was much finer. The two friends would sit for hours together 
enraptured by the lovely scene, which day by day only seemed 
to grow dearer and more charming. No amount of time and 
gazing could take from the majesty of those mountains ; from 
the soothing murmur of the pine forests as the breeze 
stirred their pointed tops and shed abroad their perfume ; 
from the repose of the far-reaching valley and occasional 
villages; from the magnificent river gleaming like a silver 
thread in graceful windings and taking its quiet course towards 
the blue waters of the Mediterranean. 

And when the sun was high and the heat of summer was 
full upon them, they would seek the shelter of the pine groves 
and listen to the ceaseless melody of the nightingales' song : 
all the more prized in that, with the days of June, the song 
would end and silence fall upon wood and grove. 

But whilst it lasted, the friends were never tired of listen- 
ing, never weary of conversing to such an accompani- 
ment. Both had exceptional minds, and sweet and charm- 
ing must have been the hours that ran in golden sands. No 
wonder that in after years they formed one of Mrs. Henry 
Wood's happiest recollections. 

Her dress in those days was almost invariably some flowing 

7 



98 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

white and airy material, for it has been said that at all times 
she felt the heat intensely. She must have seemed very 
fragile and fairy-like as she sat amongst her flowers; or in 
the shady groves, where seats were cunningly disposed ; or 
reclining in her drawing-room, where, in days when they were 
alone, she listened to her husband's voice at the piano, whilst 
thoughts and dreams passed through her imagination. 

The nights too were beautiful ; and as long as the night- 
ingales sang, as full of melody. As the sun set across the 
valley, darkness would fall, a sense of mystery haunted the 
Alpine slopes and valleys. Black and sombre and weird 
looked the trees on the mountain sides, no sound breaking the 
utter stillness excepting the occasional hooting of an owl or 
the deep baying of a far-off St. Bernard. 

On moonlight nights the effect was almost ghostly. The 
mountains cast deep shadows across the valley. Out of one 
wood into another the owls would take their silent flight with 
melancholy cry. As the moon rose the shadows would dis- 
appear for a time, and the world reposed in a flood of pale light, 
of which the far-off river would here and there catch gleams 
and flashes. The warm night air suggested quiet thought, a 
delicious repose. Lights gleamed from the house, and threw 
their reflection upon the terraces. When there was no moon, 
the stars shone with a size and brilliancy unknown to the skies 
of England. Nothing could be more lovely, more solemn and 
mysterious, than these Alpine summer nights, where all was 
calm and beautiful and full of peace. 

Nevertheless, the twilight hour, the "gathering into night," 
was always trying to Mrs. Wood. There would still sometimes 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 99 

fall upon her a sense of loneliness that was almost insupport- 
able, as it had come to her upon the Malvern Hills in child- 
hood. Everything seemed haunted by a strange silent spirit 
of invisible life and movement. To the last, she was happier 
in the centre of a stirring town with all its animated sights and 
sounds. Once when visiting friends in a small country place, 
it chanced to be the period of the annual fair. In a field not 
very far off booths were erected, and until very late at night 
torches flared, a crowd surged to and fro, drums and trumpets 
made the air anything but musical. " We fear you were much 
disturbed last night by that dreadful fair," sympathetically 
remarked her hosts the next morning. " Not at all," was the 
reply, " I quite delighted in the sounds, and in picturing the 
enjoyment of the people. I slept admirably." On the other 
hand, when near the sea, no matter how desolate the spot, 
she ever felt a sense of happiness and companionship. If 
absolutely alone, she was never lonely. She once remarked 
that if she could choose her abode and arrange things to her 
fancy, it should be Piccadilly, with all its life and movement 
on the one side and the sea flowing on the other. 

We dwell upon this period of Mrs. Henry Wood's life abroad 
not only because it was specially beloved by her — in which she 
made many true friends, and of which in after years she was 
never tired of conversing with the writer — but also because it 
was a period that greatly influenced the already singularly- 
formed mind. She was so young that her surroundings could 
not be without their distinct and permanent effect. Happy, 
then, that they were of so exceptional a nature, disposing her to 
thought and reflection, to be utilised when the pen was taken 



100 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRV WOOD 

seriously in hand. Everything about her conduced to high 
and lofty aspirations, of which youth is essentially the period. 
Her religious temperament was being confirmed in all that 
unwavering faith which ever afterwards stood her in good 
stead, and enabled her to go through many troubles with a 
heroism and a reliance in the Divine guidance seldom 
equalled. In the darkest hours of life she was absolutely calm 
and serene — entirely trustful. " It is God's will ; He doeth 
all things welL" She rarely said these things, but she never 
ceased to act up to them. Amidst all the beauties of nature, 
the mountains, the clear heavens and the silent Stars, she 
gathered strength; and many a meditation in those lovely 
groves remained to bear good fruit in the time to come 




CHAPTER X 

' ' Thrice blest whose lives aj-e faithful prayers. 
Whose loves in higher love endure ; 
What souls possess themselves so pure. 
Or is there blessedness like (heirs ? " 




But the scene 

changed sometimes. 

They would leave 
home for occasional 
visits into neighbour- 
ing lands more often 
than not Savoie or 
Switzerland Mrs. 

Henry Wood speci- 
ally delighted in the 
mountains, valleys, 
and lakes of the 
smaller country , and 
all the charming 
scenes around Cham- 
b^ry were explored. The place itself) with its quaint 
arcades and ancient fountains, knew her well. Amongst 



104 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

and the rare beauties of the country might sink into heart and 
memory. 

The scenery was often wild in the extreme. Wonderful 
mountains towered on all sides, and many a pass tried the 
mettle of the horses. Often the river rushed past them, froth- 
ing and foaming over its rocky bed. Smiling valleys opened 
out, with picturesque farmhouses and cultivated fields, in 
which the peasants worked from sunrise to sunset, with no 
interests beyond ; to whom the outer world was as distant as 
the stars, as unknown and mysterious. They tended their 
cattle and sought their goats and cows on the mountain side, 
and towards evening many a ranz des vaches rose musically 
upon the air. The greatest change to-day is in the people 
themselves — their occupations are much the same ; mountains, 
valleys and rivers have not altered; but even in these 
remote districts the country folk have become less primitive, 
more awake to their own interests. The outer world is no 
longer a sealed mystery, far off as the stars. 

One day Mr. and Mrs. Wood were walking on the road to 
Mouxy in one of their numerous excursions near Aix-les-Bains, 
when they lighted upon a group of reapers resting for a moment 
from their labour. They looked simple, picturesque and 
interesting, more or less young, five or six in all. The 
women wore bodices and short petticoats, very much like the 
costumes of the sister country, their feet, encased in small 
wooden sabots, displaying neat, well-turned ankles. The men 
wore breeches, with broad belts at their waists, and having 
thrown jackets aside were in shirt sleeves. 

The group looked so shyly and wistfully at our travellers 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 105 

that, even had it not been their custom to stop and exchange 
sentences with many who crossed their path, they must have 
done so on this occasion. They were not only an interest- 
ing, but a handsome group, who had just taken their mid- 
day meal on the roadside bank, beyond which lay the rich, 
ripe cornfields, and were making the most of their short 
leisure. As the travellers paused, they rose, and the men 
doffed their broad-brimmed hats, baring dark curly heads, 
with a "Bon jour, monsieur et dame," in the dialect of the 
neighbourhood. 

The greeting was duly returned. " It is your leisure hour ? " 
added Mrs. Wood. "You have been taking your dinner, 
and are now resting ? " 

"Yes," they replied. "They had eaten their soup, and 
were allowed half an hour's repose after it. It wasn't too much 
for those who rose at four in the morning, and began work 
at sunrise." 

"You must often be more than tired before night comes," 
was the rejoinder. 

"We are used to it," returned the spokeswoman of the 
party — a tall, handsome Savoyarde^ with a sunburnt face and 
dark eyes. " Work does not tire us ; we rise early, but we go 
to bed early — often before the sun goes down. And we have 
all Sunday for reposing. We never work on Sunday." 

" You are married," said Mrs. Wood, observing a wedding- 
ring upon the woman's finger. 

" Oui, Madame. I was foolish enough to marry ten years 
ago, when I was only seventeen. And here is the man 
who persuaded me to the folly." She grasped her husband's 



io6 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

arm, who stood near her, and turned him towards her ques- 
tioner. 

" I am not surprised," laughed Mrs. Wood. " He is very 
handsome. I hope he is good too, and makes you a kind 
husband." 

"I cannot complain," returned the woman, who seemed 
proud of her husband. " He works well, and is industrious." 

" Madame had better ask if she makes me a good wife," said 
the man. "That is a much more important matter, Rosalie." 

" Madame can judge for herself," laughed Rosalie con- 
fidently. " It is needless to asL Madame," turning to 
her questioner, " there is not a cleaner and more comfortable 
chaumibre than ours, and no one wears better clothes than 
we do. We are the envy of the village. We save, too, 
and have some konomies put by. Yet we always have meat 
on Sundays when we want it." 

" Have you any children ? " 

" Two little angels, Madame, six and eight years old, a boy 
and a girl, and the boy is the eldest. They stay with the old 
mother, who looks after them when we are working in the 
fields. Presently, when we grow aged and cannot work, if we 
have not saved enough they will work for us. Children never 
forsake their parents in our village." 

" And you," said Mrs. Wood, turning to the younger woman, 
still quite a girl ; " you probably live at home with your mother, 
and help with the manage." 

"Ah, Madame," returned the elder woman, "you have 
guessed, but you have not guessed all. She lives with la m^re, 
and helps with the manage when there is no sowing or reaping 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 107 

or weeding going on ; but she is not content with her happy 
life. She is my sister, and is ten years younger than I. That 
is just the age when I married, and she is about to commit 
the same imprudence — with less excuse. My husband was 
handsome and hard-working — no one could resist him. But, 
rhomme de la soeur — there he stands," pointing to a small but 
good-looking youth of some twenty years, whose chief character- 
istic seemed an amiably weak expression. "There he is, 
Madame ; jugez." 

The girl laughed, and seemed satisfied. "You cannot 
blame me for doing what you did yourself," she remarked to 
her elder sister. " And there is no need to look on the dark 
side of things." 

"Not at all," cried the young man, whose name was 
Francois. " When I marry, and life becomes serious, I shall 
be as industrious as your Marius, our chaumibre as well kept 
as yours. Madame, I shall do my duty, and Jeanne will have 
no cause to repent." 

" When are you to be married ? " asked Mrs. Wood, inter- 
ested in this modem Phyllis and Corydon. 

" At the St. Martin," replied Jeanne. " It is our Ducasse, 
and we shall take a week's holiday, and spend part of it at Cham- 
b^ry, where Frangois has an uncle living. We shall be happy 
and have the needful," she cried, with the hopefulness of 
youth. " I am not afraid." 

" Marius ? " said Mrs. Wood, turning to the husband. " I 
heard you called Marius. But that is a Marseilles name, is it 
not ? I do not remember to have met with it before in Savoie." 

" Very probably, Madame," returned Marius. " My mother 



io8 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

was a Marseillaise. She came to Savoie with a noble family as 
femme de chambre to the lady. Here she met my father and 
married him; and when I was born she would insist upon 
calling me Marius. * He will be as out of place as a crab on dry 
land/ said my/ather; ' I don't believe there is a single Marius 
in Savoie. People will call him an alien.* *Not at all/ 
returned the mother; *.he will set the fashion.* But no other 
Marius has sprung up — the name won't take root here. And 
my mother wouldn't take root. With all her will, she couldn't 
help fretting after her own town and people; the love was 
stronger than herself, and, though she was happy with her 
husband, after three or four years, one fine morning, she quietly 
sat down in her chair and died." 

" Died ! So suddenly ? Of what ? " 

" Of mal du pays," returned Marius simply. " She is not 
the first one who has died of the complaint, Madame. It is 
common enough in our country. The doctor pretended it was 
the heart, and so it was, but not just in the way he meant. 
Not that I should die of the same. I could be happy anywhere 
— with the wife." 

So here too was a humble romance, of which the world is 
full. It appealed to Mrs. Wood, and henceforth the little 
group had a place in her memory. Her sympathies went 
out to the woman who had died more than twenty years ago 
of love for her people. In the imagination of the listener a 
romance weaved itself; here was a life that had been an un- 
written poem. 

Sometimes they would extend their walk into the heights, a 
quiet, sure-footed pony helping Mrs. Wood through the fatigue 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 109 

of climbing. Amidst the unmelted snows they would come 
upon a small village, wonderfully out of the world. Nothing 
could be more beautiful and romantic, more suggestive than 
this cluster of houses, for which the cold of winter and the 
heat of summer marked the sole calendar of the year. Often the 
patois of such a village puzzled even Mr. Wood, whose quick 
ear had soon mastered very many of the provincialisms 
surrounding his foreign home. The inhabitants of these 
elevated abodes were in the last degree primitive, life being 
kept together by the simplest and barest necessaries. But the 
religious element was ever present amongst them, and at even- 
tide the Angelus bell never failed to ring out from the tiny 
church scarcely any village was without, and all the people 
would turn to prayer. To Mrs. Wood, with her responsive, 
reverent nature, there was something very moving in the faith 
of this simple people, who worshipped and never questioned, 
and in great measure carried out their religion in the quiet 
consistency of their lives ; without aspirations, it is true ; with 
no certainty beyond the day, but no undue or anxious thought 
for the morrow ; simply trusting for the supply of their daily 
needs. How was it possible not to be deeply interested in all 
human concerns, when such evidences of good abounded ? 

The incident we have given may be thought almost too 
trifling for record, but it is an instance of much of what Mrs. 
Wood's life then was, and as such fulfils the purpose of these 
pages and cannot be uninteresting. Through such scenes she 
was constantly passing ; with such characters and events she 
came into frequent contact ; no doubt gaining experience, ex- 
tending her knowledge of human nature, just as the bee flies 



no MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

from flower to flower extracting honey. She entered into all 
the society of the neighbourhood; enjoying it, but never 
developing into a mere lover of fashion — a woman of the 
world. That could never have been ; life was at all times too 
serious and earnest — its issues too momentous ; and as the 
bee takes its best from the flower, so she managed to take the 
best from her surroundings. 

It was a very active life in those days ; as much so as when, 
in later years, she began to write and found she had not 
strength both for work and the world, it became comparatively 
quiet and retired. But by that time she had had a long and 
varied experience, had seen society in all its phases, and 
gathered up mental pictures for use. These her memory 
placed entirely at her command. 

She became interested in the little group of which we have 
been writing. Their village was near at hand; and that 
evening in their walk they found them out and entered into 
closer acquaintance with their histories. 

The old mother was seen, and the two cherubs. The 
dame was bowed and wrinkled, and seemed to have lived 
a hard life, which was the general rule; but with it all she 
looked placid and contented — an expression so many of the 
French peasants possess when the evening of life is closing 
round them. Her little thatched cottage, with its two rooms — a 
but and a ben, as the Scotch would say — was clean and spotless. 
Its outside walls might have been white-washed once a week 
— another prominent mark of the peasantry. If they possess 
any self-respect, or wish to be well considered, their first thought 
is to have an irreproachable tenement, however humble. And 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD in 

it is thorough; if the outside be fair to look upon, depend 
upon it the interior is equally so. The inmates of an untidy 
house are held in small esteem. It is astonishing how much 
pride in their own little way distinguishes the best of them. 

This old woman, evidently very poor, was as neat and 
clean in her dress as her walls were unblemished. She felt 
honoured by the notice given her by visitors, but, like most of 
her class, was not overwhelmed. In France there is no 
antagonism between the classes, but, on the contrary, an 
amicable feeling — a Men entendu which makes intercourse 
very possible and pleasant The Lady Bountiful is less visible 
than in England. She is less needed, for the peasantry are 
industrious and saving, and generally fall into poverty only 
through some serious fault, such as dishonesty or idleness, both 
exceptions to the rule. The great lady of the chateau, there- 
fore, visits them less to minister to their wants than because 
she takes a lively interest in their welfare. 

" Monsieur et Madame were very good to visit her," said 
the old woman, coming out of her chimney-comer, where 
she was building up a peat fire which threw out a delicious 
scent suggestive of quiet neighbourhoods. " There were not 
many gentlefolk in the voisinage to take an interest in them. 
Monsieur and Madame de Pierrefond at the chateau were 
both too old now to go about much. Yes, her daughter was 
going to be married, though she might have waited until 
her old mother was under earth. You see, her husband died 
when Jeanne was a baby, and she had had nothing else 
to care for all these years — her other daughter married soon. 
But it was the way with young people; their mothers and 



II* MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

grandmothers had done the same before them ; it was heredi- 
tary. On s'y attendait. And after all it would be very nearly 
the same as before. Jeanne was going to have the house next 
door, and it would be almost as one manage. She would still 
help her old mother. A good girl would make a good wife, 
and no doubt she would always be a daughter to her." 

And with words of sympathy for the old woman, and words 
of encouragement for the daughter, the visitors wended their 
way back to Aix-les- Bains, through the charming valley, 
beside the waters of the Lac du Bourget, more solemn and 
frowning than ever in the falling twilight; the solitary pile 
of the Haute Combe across the lake, rising amidst the 
whispering pine-trees. Round about them towered the lovely 
mountains of Savoie, outlined in beauty and majesty against 
the darkening sky. 




CHAPTER XI 



"And, doubtless, unto thee is given 
A life that bears immortal fruit 
In those great offices that suit 
The fuU-grovra energies of heaven." 

The day after the village 
episode our travellers 
continued their journey 
towards Annecy, host and 
hostess, backed by the 
whole personnel of the 
hotel, assembling to speed 
them on their way. 

Those were days of 
simple manners and cus- 
toms, yet of true d^nity 
and consideration, not- 
withstanding that in 
France all classes were 
■, ahhecv. more or less in touch 

with each other. It was a usual thing for the entire establish- 
ment to turn out and group round the door of the inn to 




114 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

wish "Bon voyage" to the departing guests, especially if by 
a gracious amiability they had made themselves popular and 
esteemed. 

Mr. and Mrs. Wood continued their journey towards 
Annecy, the wildest and grandest part opening up towards the 
end — that narrow pass in which the Gorges du Fier entered 
upon the scene. Now the railway hurries past the openings 
in the rocks, giving the unfortunate traveller a momentary 
glimpse of falling water and roaring torrents; but in those 
days there was nothing to break the solitude or intrude upon 
the majesty of the landscape. At rare intervals a diligence 
or travelling carriage would pass their own, and that 
was all. 

Villages here and there rose on the plains — the picturesque 
Alpine villages of Savoie with their simple inhabitants. 
Rumours seldom reached them from the outside world; 
newspapers werte unknown ; wars might be going on of which 
they knew nothing until all was over. The fame even of 
a Napoleon was dimly understood, never realised unless he 
passed with his armies on his way to fresh victories. Then 
cottage doors would close, alarmed faces peered through drawn 
blinds, and the simple people would crouch before a crucifix 
or an image of the Virgin, praying for deliverance and 
prosperity. Seed-time and harvest, tending cattle, eating 
the hard-earned daily bread — such was their life. Always the 
same simple nature ; and to this hour there are little out-of- 
the-way spots where the peasants are less changed than would 
seem possible. 

The Gorges du Fier, approaching Annecy, was, we have said, 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 115 

the wildest part of the journey. Mr. and Mrs. Wood always 
planned to reach it in the morning, and would linger long. A 
roaring torrent leaped madly between its rocky walls, washing 
over great boulders smooth as ivory ; frothing and seething as 
it tumbled into whirling eddies, and coursed onwards. Here, 
whilst the sun sensibly climbed higher, they would stand upon 
the old Roman bridge, gazing upon the Chateau of Mont- 
rottier and all the wonderful view disclosed. The rushing 
sound, the sense of power never absent from the torrent, 
delighted Mrs. Wood. Sometimes her husband would climb 
down impossible precipices, whilst she looked on in terror 
lest a false step should plunge him into the wild waters; 
to return presently with hands full of rare and beautiful ferns, 
more difficult to reach than the mountain Edelweiss. The 
roads, even in those days, were excellent, and had to be so, 
for they were the only means of communication with the 
outside world. 

The travellers were wont to linger by their favourite 
torrent. Hours would glide away, the carriage wait and walk, 
and the postilions wonder what Monsieur et Madame saw 
in the unhappy rocks they could never pass without wasting 
a whole day in this barren wilderness. At last it would be 
over, and the final stage entered ; and the horses, perhaps as 
impatient as the men, would start off with spirit. When the 
sun was declining, quaint old Annecy was reached, with its 
gateways and arcades, streets intersected by canals, and many 
signs and vestiges of the past. Here, in a church dedicated 
to him, lies St. Francis de Sales, and near him the remains of 
saintly Mhre Chantal, for whom he had so great a regard and 



Ii6 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

fervent friendship. Here came Rousseau, after escaping from 
Geneva, before taking up his abode at the unpretending 
Charmettes: scenes and influences that find their record in 
his Confessions, The ancient castle on the lake still throws 
its reflections on the calm waters, but has lost much of its 
romantic interest in its latter-day destiny. Yet it still takes 
one back in spirit to feudal ages, and to times when cruelty 
and torture were rife in the land. Many horrible instruments 
are yet shown. 

Passing beyond all this, skirting the borders of the lake — 
smiling as the Lac du Bourget was the opposite — they 
presently reached a chllteau in the hills, where dwelt an 
intimate friend of Mr. Henry Wood, and all the refinements of 
life were found allied to a singular simplicity : where existence 
was a sort of pastoral symphony, with the hours unnumbered 
and the days unchecked. 

The owner of this fair paradise — Monsieur de Beaussire — 
had mixed much in the gay and great world. An earnest 
politician, he had espoused certain Utopian views heart and 
soul on which his happiness and ambition depended. They 
failed, and in the disappointment of the moment he threw up 
everything, closed his house in Paris, and withdrew, with his 
wife and children, to his remote Savoie estate. His wife, a 
woman in ten thousand, submitted without a murmur to the 
exile. 

" I thought it best not to oppose him," she confided one 
day to Mrs. Henry Wood. "Opposition only makes people 
more determined, and the reaction was bound to come. He 
has really too great a mind to bury it here for ever; but it 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 117 

tarries long. We have now spent five years without change 
of scene. I scarcely remember Paris, and my best friends are 
beginning to forget me. The summers are charming ; but the 
winters are beyond imagination." 

"You have had great patience and wisdom," said Mrs. 
Wood. " Do you see no signs of a wish to return to life and 
politics — all his heart holds dear, though he tries to persuade 
himself to the contrary ? " 

" I do," was the answer. " I see things which tell me his 
mind is working round to its old desires. His views are 
altered, though he would hardly admit it, and when he goes 
back to politics he will succeed where before he failed. But 
the time is not quite yet. I give him two more years; we 
shall then have been here seven years, and every seven years, 
they say, brings a change. Seven years ! To me it has been 
more like seventy." 

The patient wife was correct in all she foresaw. Two 
years from that time her husband was again the centre 
of the political world of France. Their hotel in Paris was 
reopened and the brilliant life resumed. Years rolled 
on, and changes crept over the face of the country; the 
revolution of 1848 broke out; the King fled; and amongst 
those who remained and lost their lives was Monsieur de 
Beaussire. 

His wife, good, patient, courageous, had died the previous 
year, removed from the evil to come ; and in his last hour what 
he had looked upon as the great sorrow of his life he de- 
clared to have become his greatest blessing. The thought of 
rejoining his wife reconciled him to death. A rare nature 



ii8 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

in a Frenchman; for the men of France then, as now, 
troubled themselves very little about religion, which they left 
to women and the priesthood. 

Meanwhile we have said that life at the Chateau de Beaussire 
was a pastoral symphony, and a whole week would be passed 
amidst all the famous spots of the neighbourhood. The house 
where St. Bernard was bom ; ruined monasteries unknown to 
the world, but reposing in dreams of sylvan beauty; more 
distant excursions to the hills and the ice-caves of Parmelan ; 
the whole family sometimes setting out on horseback. But 
on these occasions Mrs. Wood, ever too delicate and timid to 
ride, remained at home. 

A charming and happy week ; and the hours would pass 
quickly, as only hours and days can pass spent amongst 
friends who are absolutely congenial to each other. 

Monsieur de Beaussire was a brilliant conversationalist, 
and far from turning misanthrope with his self-imposed banish- 
ment, he seemed to have thrown off all the weight of a political 
life for the light -heartedness almost of childhood. It was, 
indeed, this happy temperament which had enabled his wife 
to bear her exile. She saw nothing of the world, but infinitely 
more of her husband's society, and admirable as had been their 
mutual relations in the busy Capital, it was as nothing com- 
pared with the mutual devotion which sprang up during 
these years of retirement : a devotion never relaxed when 
they returned to a more active life. 

All their spare hours were given to each other; and to 
friends less faithfully constituted they became almost an 
amusement and a proverb. But their happiness was short- 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 119 

lived Monsieur and Madame de Beaussire were both com- 
paratively young when they were called upon to renounce life 
and all the pomps and pleasures they had used so well and 
wisely. 

The week's visit of which we are writing extended itself to 
ten days, and then Mr. and Mrs. Wood bade a reluctant good- 
bye to their friends, returning home by the way they had 
come. But there were times when they would vary their route 
— pass through the lovely mountainous country into Switzer- 
land, linger by the Lake of Geneva, and glide about its fair 
waters. Geneva, Lausanne, Ouchy, the whole neighbourhood 
was sacred to romance and history. Rousseau and Voltaire, 
Byron with his charm, and Shelley with his dreams, all had 
left their impression and influence behind them. Here Gibbon 
had finished his Decline and Fall ; here Madame de Stael had 
lived with her father ; here Byron wrote his Prisoner of Chillon 
and immortalised the spot in Childe Harold, Near Chillon 
Rousseau had placed his scene in Hkloise^ and they loved to 
gaze on its frowning walls, where Bonivard lingered out six 
years of his life, then to regain freedom, turn Protestant, and 
become the brave husband of four wives. Passing over the 
Jura, from the summit they beheld the blue waters of the lake 
spread out far beneath them, whilst Mont Blanc — first seen 
from the heights of Fourvi^re as a distant dream — rose near 
at hand in all its glory. From the lake flowed the first waters 
of the Rhone, blue and transparent, but to become turbid and 
troubled as the river passed through Lyons on its way to the 
Mediterranean. In after years Mrs. Wood loved to talk of 
these bygone days and experiences. 



120 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

But on the visit to which we have referred they had engage- 
ments at home, and returned quickly, staying one night only 
at Aix-les-Bains. We may be sure the little family we have 
described was not forgotten. It was a week nearer the 
Ducasse, the village wedding a week nearer its fulfilment, 
Jeanne a week happier. Even Jacqueline, the wife of Marius, 
bad become more reconciled, and professed to have some hope 
of the bridegroom. 

What has become of them all, one wonders. The French 
peasantry sometimes live to a great age, and it is just 
possible that Jeanne and Francois are a bowed and bent 
grand&ther and grandmother, waiting their hour. More 
probably both are at rest beneath two little wooden crosses. 
In the chances and changes of tlie world, they may even 
have been sleeping side by side in death for the last half- 
centurj'. 




CHAPTER XII 

" Be near me when I fade away, 

To point the term of human strife. 
And on the low dark verge of life 
The twilight of eternal day." 

Another journey — 
everything was a 
journey in those days 
— may be recorded, 
because it had in 
it something of the 
[ adventurous, and 
' was of a nature 
one on earth but 
[r. Henry Wood 
tif would have thoi:^ht 
of or attempted. 
Nothing daunted 
him ; an idea enter- 
E Chaktreuse. ing his head was 

suiEcient reason for its being acted upon. No matter how 
impossible, his sanguine temperament saw nothing not easily 




122 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

accomplished. Nothing was an effort. His thoughts were 
too rapid; he had unHmited confidence in himself; and he 
seldom paused to weigh his ideas. He saw in a moment 
what he considered ought to be done, and it was done with- 
out thought of results. 

We linger over this period of Mrs. Henry Wood's career, 
as we have said, because it was her first introduction to foreign 
life, and made a vivid impression upon her, colouring her 
after days : a time ever much in her thoughts, and of which 
she was ever ready to talk to those who loved to listen. 
And it was that enchanting and romantic period — early 
married life — ^when, as a rule, everything is bright, the world 
all couleur de rose, one's home an enchanted castle, of which 
the two principal beings are magicians. Troubles are as yet 
unseen, unrealised, and in every individual case the magic 
pair think they will prove the one exception to the rule : 
cares and anxieties are not for them, no clouds will come 
between — ^just as it is said that we think every one mortal but 
ourselves. 

We also linger because of Mrs. Henry Wood's after career 
very little can be written. The life so fair in the beginning 
was presently to drink deeply of the waters of affliction. Dark 
clouds rolled over her brilliant sky and for a time obscured 
the sunshine. 

But meanwhile all was bright ; it was spring weather, with 
skies and verdure only found in climes where everything is 
beautified by a sparkling atmosphere. It was a very forward 
year, and the leafy freshness was in full glory. One morning 
Mr. Henry Wood came up to his wife, who was reclining in 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 123 

her drawing-room. " I have an idea," he said, " and only want 
your consent to put it into execution." 

"What is it?" she returned, smiling; for her husband 
had many ideas, and some of them had to be reduced 
to ordinary proportions by common - sense. " Have you 
found the elixir of life, or the philosopher's stone, or 
Aladdin's lamp ? " 

"Better than all," he laughed. "My idea has been 
suggested by this splendid weather. I have a few spare days, 
and it is a sin to waste them here. I should like to take you 
to the Grande Chartreuse, and acquaint you with all the 
beauties of that wonderful drive." 

" The Grande Chartreuse ! " exclaimed . Mrs. Wood. " But 
that is a monastery. I might as well offer to conduct you to 
that far-off Convent where my cousin gave up life and became 
Soeur Marie -Ursule, dead to the world. You would not be 
admitted beyond a salle de rkeption ; I should not even be 
admitted to so much at the Grande Chartreuse." 

" But we should spend a week amidst some of the wonders 
of nature — a week to remember all our lives," urged her 
husband. 

" That I grant," was the reply ; " and if you wish it, I am 
ready to go with you. But you may have to spend a night at the 
monastery, and what will become of poor me during the time ?" 

"That is serious," he laughed; "but not so serious as it 
appears. If I do have to spend a night there — I don't think 
it will be necessary — an establishment close by, inhabited by 
nuns, I believe, would receive you, and you would be as safe 
as you are at home." 



124 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

" You make me feel nervous," returned Mrs. Wood, laugh- 
ing also. " They might refuse to give me up again. One has 
heard of such things." 

" Are you willing to run the risk ? " 

"Quite willing. I think they will probably be only too 
glad to get rid of me ; for in their eyes I suppose I am an 
unhappy heretic." 

"And then, as to your not seeing the inside of the 
monastery, I am not so sure upon the point," continued Mr. 
Wood. " I think I can promise that at least you shall visit 
the refectory and cloisters." 

"But I thought women were not admitted over the 
threshold? What Open Sesame would unbar the doors 
to me ? " 

" Ah 1 " he laughed. " The impossible in life often becomes 
possible if we only know how to go to work. I will tell you 
my secret The Brother who is doorkeeper at present, and 
often accompanies people over the monastery, was not always 
a monk. He has, indeed, not very long been a monk ; and 
he is not a full-fledged monk now. He was a gentleman and 
a man who always interested me. It was once in my power to 
render him a service for which I earned his undying gratitude. 
There is nothing on earth he would not do for me, even to 
risking his present position, which of course I would never 
permit. But I am acquainted with the ways of the monastery, 
which I have often visited, and know where there is risk and 
where there is none. But the future shall decide. When shall 
we start ? Can you be ready to-morrow morning ? " 

"Quite ready," replied Mrs. Wood, who always made a 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 125 

point of yielding to her husband's wishes when it was possible 
and of falling in with his plans, as good wives do. And on the 
following morning they started — a. morning as bright and fair 
and full of promise as many of the days that had gone before. 

The air was fresh and clear — that wonderful clearness 
only to be found amongst mountains. These same mountains 
rose majestically on all sides, many of their summits still 
snow-capped; a cold, strange contrast to the warm sun- 
shine and brilliant sky. The fair river ran silently to- 
wards the far-off sea; and the travellers, crossing it by an 
old bridge, no doubt still standing, passed out of sight and 
sound of the town. 

They made a long round of their journey for the sake of 
the magnificent scenery that everywhere abounded. Here, 
too, the roads were excellent; but occasionally a small 
mountain pass had to be climbed with difficulty and descended 
with care. Pine-trees grew far up the mountain sides, dark 
and sombre but ever charming, scenting the air, a delicious 
repose to the eye ; and where pine forests were not, often the 
hill-sides were covered with vegetation of soft luxuriance — 
vines growing like currant bushes, still rather bare and 
wintry-looking, but soon to burst into leaf. The mulberry 
tree stood in profusion in the plains for the sake of the 
industrious silkworm, here cultivated by millions; its lovely 
cocoons spun into silk and presently woven into the rich 
material for which Lyons in France and Spitalfields in England 
were so famous in those days. 

Journeying, they often heard the sound of the loom issuing 
from an open cottage door; and sometimes would stop the 



126 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

carriage and alight, pay the weaver a visit, and bring a gleam 
of sunshine into his quiet existence. These visits would break 
for a moment the monotony of constant movement, and rest the 
travellers. Often they came upon an unexpected village tragedy 
or romance, as they had come upon the little group near Aix-les- 
Bains; and the simple villagers were ready with their confidences. 
Now it was a hard winter which made it difficult to keep Xhtpot 
aufeu boiling ; now a lonely grave in the churchyard, on which 
the turf had not yet had time to grow, and the sound of the 
mother's voice still echoed in the chaumiere^ and the little wide- 
eyed children ran about neglected ; again it was the gayer subject 
of a wedding a week old, and the new wife stood blushing and 
happy at the chimney comer, young and blooming ; and the 
young and handsome husband, dividing his time between 
weaving and the cultivation of his garden, had not yet put on 
the pale look of middle-age. 

There was an abundant study of human nature in its 
humbler forms in these journeys ; material for many a village 
pastoral, such as George Sand so vividly describes in La 
Petite Fadette, Franfois le Champi^ and those wonderful idylls 
which charm by their simplicity and faithfulness. But George 
Sand writes of a very different part of the country, where 
also the loom is sometimes heard with its whir, and the 
shuttle flies to and fro ; where one room often does duty for 
everything, and in a corner there shines out a magnificent 
carved oak press worth its weight in gold, and the people to 
this day have kept their first primitiveness, and often their dress. 
Yet the Morbihan could never produce such magnificent and 
romantic scenery as that through which our travellers journeyed 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 127 

on their way to the Grande Chartreuse. The peasants on the 
road were few — the women wearing the enormous straw bonnets 
still occasionally seen in the Dauphind. The waggons were 
generally drawn by oxen. 

At length they approached the end of their journey, and 
entered St. Laurent du Pont. The place was little more than 
a hamlet in those days, with a very primitive inn, but shelter 
and accommodation were fairly good, and travellers not in- 
frequently put up there on their way to the famous monastery. 
It seemed that Mr. Wood had slightly changed his plans, for 
here, he announced, and not at the Grande Chartreuse, they 
would pass the night. 

They had entered St. Laurent about eleven in the morning, 
their journey that day having been a very short one. After a 
simple dtjeuner^ they returned to the carriage, and began to 
ascend the wonderful pass. 

Immediately after leaving the village the narrow gorge was 
entered — a gorge wild and beautiful. The monastery was 
about ten miles distant, the ascent almost continual. They 
had left the world behind them, and were journeying into 
the solitary mountains. Nothing but a small, noisy running 
stream and the road separated the two ranges. The water 
was of transparent emerald, clear as crystal. Great boulders 
of rock stood out, the stones worn into quaint forms by the 
ever- flowing stream. Small cascades ran down the mountain 
sides, shining through the pine-trees like silver threads. 

At Fourvoirie they passed a forge romantically situated 
near the torrent, a most picturesque object. In front the 
mountains appeared to close in ; a wealth of verdure overhung 



128 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

the water, here spanned by an old gray stone bridge. To all 
this the forge gave life and colouring : as forges always do, no 
matter where, for they are a remnant of barbarism pregnant 
with mystery. Hard by there was a charming waterfall, and 
beyond this the ruined bridge of the old road, used by the 
monks in the days of their first estate : who certainly were 
determined to place a barrier between themselves and the 
world when they built their parent institution in this almost 
inaccessible spot. 

But what a wonderful eye for beauty they had, those monks; 
what an appreciation of nature; how invariably they found 
out where the best trout-streams ran, so that they might not 
only possess an innocent pastime, but an abundant supply of 
wholesome and unforbidden food. When St. Bruno wandered 
into this wilderness and there pitched his tent and built him a 
small chapel, he must have had some prejudice against the 
world, some terrible disappointment which caused him to 
choose this remote spot; but he must also have felt the 
solemn grandeur of the mountains a never-ending source 
of consolation and delight. An appalling solitude, never- 
theless. 

At length the pass widened a little; the v snow -capped 
mountains receded and formed an amphitheatre; the 
perpendicular rocks passed away, and sloping hill -sides, 
covered with pine-trees, gave the scene a less wild ar^d 
desolate aspect. In the midst of this wonderful amphitheatre 
Mr. Henry Wood presently pointed out to his wife the huge, 
quaint, ugly pile of the monastery, with its straggling buildings 
and dependencies — its slanting roofs and small turrets ; a high 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 129 

dead wall encircling an immense area, within which the monks 
walked on ordinary days. 

The carriage stopped not very far from the front entrance, 
and Mr. Wood, getting out alone, went up to the huge door, 
and the sound of a bell echoed through the building. Soon 
the door opened cautiously, and the pale, refined, singularly 
handsome face of a Fr^re Procureur looked out upon the 
world 

C5n recognising the new arrival, rapture took the place of 
the resigned expression which characterises most of the 
monks, as if there were nothing more to hope for from life ; 
the door was thrown wide ; the visitor's hand was seized with 
every token of grateful afifection. Then he passed in, and 
the door closed upon him. In five minutes* time he came 
out again ; and Mrs. Wood afterwards knew that this was part 
of the conversation that had taken place. 

" To what happy chance do I owe this surprise ? " from the 
Fr^re Procureur. " It is life from the dead." 

"I am here for a special purpose," replied Mr. Wood. 
"Are you not glad to see me?" 

" I tell you it is as life from the dead," returned the monk 
with fervour. " To see you and hear your voice I would at 
any moment accept a month's penance. Have you come 
straight from home ? " 

"We have been some days on the road, loitering amidst 
those scenes you have yourself so much loved — never more 
splendid than now. But you, shut up within these walls " 

" Hush," cried the monk painfully. " Do not remind me 
of days passed for ever. Do not reopen wounds hardly yet 

9 



I30 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

closed. Rather pray that I may grow resigned to this silence 
of the tomb, this death in life. Not that I would undo what 
I have done, or go back to the world I have abandoned. I 
am only upset for the moment at hearing your voice and grasp- 
ing your hand. It brings back the lost life so vividly. But I 
am resigned and not unhappy." 

" I am glad to hear it," returned Mr. Wood, " but I am 
surprised, for you are taking refuge in a life altogether un- 
suited to you. You were never intended for a monk, and I 
told you at the time you would repent it. But you were 
obstinate, Julien " 

" Hush ! " again interrupted the monk. " I left that name 
behind me when I entered here; do not awaken happier 
thoughts by using it. Now I am Fihre Jeronimo." 

"And are you really resigned and happy? If so, the 
expression of your face when you opened the door belied you." 

Frhre Jeronimo hesitated a moment. " The change from 
the busy world to this living tomb has been great," he replied 
at length. "At first the contrast was severe — the transition 
too abrupt. The silence and solemnity appalled me; I admit it. 
There ought, I think, to be intermediate stages or establishments, 
so that one might gradually become accustomed to this entomb- 
ment. But I am growing used to it. BeUeve me, I am not 
unhappy and I do not repent. If I had to do it over again I 
doubt if I should hesitate. What has the world done for me, 
after all? What have I found in it that I should care to re- 
nounce? Yet now and then I find myself dwelling with a 
certain longing upon the past — ^just as if I had found it all 
an earthly paradise." 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 131 

They had passed into the Salle de Bourgogne, a refectory 
given over to the use of visitors. It was empty, and the 
brother went up to a large press or cupboard, and, taking out 
some Chartreuse, offered a glass to his visitor. 

" I thought I saw your carriage not far ofif," he remarked ; 
" and I also thought I saw " 

"Never mind what you thought," interrupted Mr. Wood. 
" Are you alone in the monastery — no visitors staying 
here ? " 

"None whatever; nor likely to have any." 

" Good. Shall you be on guard to-night ? " 

"No; but the brother whose turn it is is a sleepy fellow, 
and will only too gladly give it up to me — if you wish it." 

" I want to come and hear the midnight mass " 

" Nothing easier," interrupted Fr^re Jeronimo. 

"Yes ; but I wish to bring a friend with me." 

" Why not ? " 

" A friend who will be dressed as a monk, of whom you 
must ask no questions, and who will not speak to you." 

" A mystery ! " laughed the brother. " This really suggests 
the world, and I thought I had done with mysteries and the 
world for ever." 

" You will be quite alone ? We shall not be likely to meet 
any one ? — any of the fathers or brothers ? " 

"Not a creature. Be here three minutes after the clock 
has struck midnight. The door will be a little open. I shall 
be absolutely alone. The corridors will be empty. Every one 
will have gone in to the midnight mass. I might take you 
from one end of the building to the other without fear of 



132 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

interruption. But I do not understand. How do you purpose 
arriving here at midnight? It is an unearthly hour — unless 
you are staying in the monastery." 

" Leave that to me," was the reply. " At three minutes 
after your clock has struck midnight you will find us here. 
Remember it is full moon, and the night will be almost as 
light as day." 

" It is the day for the monks to take their walk," said the 
brother as they separated. " Go into the mountains, and you 
will see them. But if you are not alone, do not speak to them. 
They will not look at you." 

For some two hours after this Mr. and Mrs. Wood wandered 
in the pine-scented woods, revelling in the wonderful wealth 
and beauties of nature — their path a perfect carpet of green 
moss, wild flowers and ferns ; hardy plants that grew in these 
high latitudes. The silence and solitude were intense, for out 
of sight of the monastery buildings they might have been in 
the wilds of a desert. 

But presently the solitude was broken. Suddenly they 
came upon the monks, cloaked and cowled, filing through an 
upward path — a strange patchwork of humanity upon the 
mountain side. 

They were all conversing together, as if they had much to 
say, and were making up for a whole week's silence. Yet 
what could they have to talk about — these men who had long 
ago renounced life, and knew little or nothing of what was 
going on in the world ? It was difficult to imagine. But their 
voices rose clear and loud, and they seemed to be making the 
most of their week's "half-hoHday." Silent at all other 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 133 

times, they are even commanded to talk on these occasions. 
Our travellers watched them until they disappeared, but 
long after that the echo of their voices might be heard in 
the sparkling atmosphere — a strange sound in these mountain 
regions. 

"And so I suppose I was not allowed to see even the 
refectory and the ceipetery ? " remarked Mrs. Wood. " I am 
not disappointed, for I did not think it possible, even with 
the help of your friend the Frhre Procureur." 

" All in good time," was the laughing reply. " You don't 
know what may yet be in store for you." 

They had re-entered the carriage, and were returning to St. 
Laurent du Pont. At the forge the blacksmith was wielding 
his hammer, and the travellers alighted and spoke to him, for 
he was no stranger to Mr. Wood, to whom the neighbourhood 
was well known, and whose name bore weight and influence 
in the country. At length St. Laurent was reached. 

"And now you must rest," said Mr. Wood to his wife. 
" Our day is not over, and I am afraid your strength will be a 
little taxed. I intend to take you for a drive to-night, and to 
show you by moonlight all the wonders you have just seen in 
sunshine." 

"But will it not be too much fqr me?" objected Mrs. 
Wood, in her surprise. "Do you think I shall be able to 
stand it ? And are not the nights still cold ? " 

" I will take every care of you," was the reply ; " and I 
have thought of everything. It will not be a very cold night, 
and I have an extra cloak for you in my portmanteau. As 
for fatigue, you will be too absorbed in the scene to dream of 



134 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

beii^ tired. You don't know what wild gorges and snow- 
capped mountains and dense pine forests are under the 
moonlight magic" 

" I think I can imagine all that," replied Mrs. Wood, laugh- 
ing; "and I also think the night drive rather a wild idea, but 
I am quite ready to take it if you wish it At what hour shall 
we start ? " 

" At ten o'clock." 

"And do you mean to go quite up to the monastery?" 

" Up to the very doors," 

" That will make it midnight — the witching hour. We 
shall see ghosts," laughed Mrs. Wood — "the ghosts of all 
the dead-and-gone monks who have lived up there for the last 
seven hundred years. What an army there would be ! Henry, 
it is a wild scheme of yours — and all for a little moonlight ! " 




CHAPTER XIII 

" When in the down I sink my head 

Sleep, Death's twin brother times my breath ; 
Sleep, Death's twin brother knows not Death, 
Nor can I dream of thee as dead 




brown cloak, with a capuchon. 



The day passed on, 
Mrs Wood resting 
until eight o'clock. 
At eiglit they dined, 
and at ten re-entered 
the carriage and 
began their morn- 
ing s experience over 

What have you 
there?" asked Mrs. 
Wood, seeing her 
husband come out 
with something over 
his arm. "A funny 
It is not mine — I never wore 



brown in my life. You have made some mistake, Henry." 



136 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

" It is all right," he laughed. "You may find it cold up in 
the mountains, and may want an extra cloak whilst walking 
about." 

They set out It was a magnificent night, and not cold. 
The full moon sailed majestically in a cloudless sky. In the 
narrow gorge all was dark and impenetrable. They could 
hear the running water, but could not see it ; nor the ferns, 
nor the brushwood, nor the overhanging trees. The forge 
was closed, its owner no doubt sleeping the sleep of the just 
and the hard-worked ; but the penetrating moonbeams threw 
it into light and shade, together with the old bridge close to 
which it stood. All looked ghostly and mysterious in the pale 
light, backed by the high snow-capped mountains and dense 
pine woods. 

The quiet of day had been nothing to this midnight hush. 
The carriage made slow progress, the urging postboy and 
treading horses alone breaking in upon the solemn silence 
and repose. Within about half a mile of the monastery Mr. 
Wood stopped the carriage, bade it remain there, and they 
alighted and walked. Calm and peaceful was the night, and 
now the stillness was that of a dead world. Not the cry of a 
bird, not the fluttering of a wing broke upon the air. The 
mountains stood in utter solitude and majesty, twice magnified 
in the pale moonlight. 

They stood and listened to the silence. A faint breeze 
went whispering through the pine forests, as if the spirits of 
the dead-and-gone monks of many an age were abroad. A 
little ahead they now saw the ghostly monastic pile looming 
out in the moonlight, which glittered upon the slanting roofs 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 137 

and found its reflection in some of the windows. As they 
walked, the turret -clock struck the witching hour, and 
twelve strokes slowly rang out upon the midnight air : signal 
for the ghosts to appear, if any existed. 

It was a solemn moment, an inexpressibly solemn and 
magnificent scene. A tremulousness seized Mrs. Wood for 
an instant, and her husband quickly enveloped her in the 
cloak he carried over his arm. She did not observe that it 
was a counterpart of a monk's cloak, lined with soft white 
fur. " I am not cold," she said, submitting passively to his 
care. " If I shivered, I think it was at the effect of this 
wonderful scene, and the sudden striking of midnight — a 
ghostly sound in the stillness." 

And now they were almost at the very door of the 
monastery. " Henry,*' said Mrs. Wood, startled by a sudden 
thought, " you are surely not going in, to leave me here alone ?" 

" My dear ! " he protested. " I am going to take you to 
see the refectory, and the cloisters and graveyard in the 
moonlight. Now that we are here it would be a pity to 
miss all this. It is all arranged: I have permission. But 
within the walls it is cold ; let me draw your hood." 

It was no sooner said than done; and Mrs. Wood 
might have been mistaken for a young diminutive monk or 
novice; the face almost hidden by the capuchon^ nothing 
visible but the outlines of the small slender form. All had 
passed so suddenly that there was no time for thought or 
question. 

The door was a little open. Evidently their voices or 
footsteps had been heard ; Frbre Jeronimo was listening at his 



£38 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

post, for the door opened wider, and the pale, refined face of the 
monk, almost hidden by the cowl, shone out in the moonlight. 

"C'est bien vous," he whispered. "Follow me. Fear 
nothing. I am alone. The matines have commenced." 

They passed in, and the door closed on profound darkness. 
Striking a light in a lantern, he took the lead without turning 
or looking, and without a word led the way to the refectory : 
the Salle de Bourgogne: a large white -washed room, with 
long bare tables. At the end of a table, near the door, on a 
plate stood two small glasses of Chartreuse, the bottle at hand. 
With a half smile Mr. Wood offered one to his wife, knowing 
well it would be refused, but did not refuse one himself in 
those cold quarters. Always the most abstemious of men, no 
one was a better judge of good wine, or appreciated it more 
in moderation: a man of refined taste as well as of artistic 
temperament. 

The Salle de Bourgogne was full of ghostly shadows, which 
danced and flitted over walls and ceiling as the lantern moved 
in the hand of the monk. It looked bare, cold and cheer- 
less ; exactly the room fitted for men who had passed for ever 
from the world and given up their lives to fasting and vigil. 
Yet, as we have said, it was not the secluded refectory of the 
monks, but the public room set apart for those who from 
curiosity or some worthier motive visited the monastery; 
perhaps to spend a day or two within its hospital walls : a 
hospitality confined to the most meagre and penitential fare. 
All were privileged to wander about halls and corridors, 
cloisters and graveyard ; to come and go as they would ; but 
if they asked to be admitted to the realms where the celebrated 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 139 

liqueur was made, and to be shown its secrets, an ominous 
shake of the head with indrawn lips was the sole response. If 
in the corridors they met a father or brother, the cowl was 
more closely drawn, nothing was seen but the outline of a pale 
subdued face and eyes that seemed full of a sad introspection. 
A Trappist would have murmured "Memento Mori " in passing, 
but the Carthusians are vowed to silence. At all times there 
have been those who have braved the ordeal of nights in a 
cloister, attracted by the sense of mystery attached to every 
monkish community. Have we not all felt this, even in deserted 
monasteries that perhaps have not echoed for centuries to the 
sound of sandalled footsteps and midnight chanting? The 
element still lurks in the silent corridors, the ghostly atmo- 
sphere still hangs about the empty cell ; the spirits of dead- 
and-gone monks haunt every turning and corner, and will do 
so as long as the stones are left one upon another. 

Passing out of the refectory, the brother still guiding, they 
went rapidly down a long passage which presently led them to 
the cloisters and little cemetery. All shone out clearly and 
distinctly in the moonlight, and the pavement was flecked with 
ghostly shadows. Small wooden crosses marked where the 
dead lay in solemn peace and repose. The whole atmosphere 
of the place at this witching hour was weird and wonderful, the 
scene strangely beautiful and impressive. They lingered only 
long enough to take it all in, a never-fading recollection ; 
then the brother, who had stood silent and motionless, again 
moved and led the way. 

Once more through one long silent passage and another ; 
then up a short staircase ; the light extinguished ; a door 



I40 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

quietly opened; and they stood in a dark gallery, looking 
down upon a singular scene. A small, long chapel, a row 
of monks down each side, cloaked and cowled ; each monk 
had a lantern near him, and these lanterns alone lighted up the 
place, which was in semi-darkness. Not a ray penetrated to 
the gallery ; the greater part of the chapel was in gloom, ahd 
the altar at the far end could only be faintly outlined. The 
monks themselves were in shadow only relieved by the flicker- 
ing lanterns. A few only had thrown back their hoods, and 
the lantern -light threw its pale glare upon cadaverous faces 
that seemed consumed with an inward fire of penitence or regret. 

Nothing human could have looked more ghostly. They 
were chanting Gregorian music, melancholy and monotonous 
enough for a dirge — a perpetual funeral hymn, a Nunc Dimittis 
from the world. Occasionally one of the fathers rose, took up 
his lantern, flitted like a phantom down the aisle, between the 
two rows of kneeling monks, and, taking his place at a lectern, 
would chant for a short time from a book, guided by his own 
light, and then return to his seat. So it has been for cen- 
turies ; so it still is to-day ; for the Grande Chartreuse, in con- 
sideration of the revenue it brings to the Government by the 
sale of its liqueur, has not been abolished. 

After a time Frbre Jeronimo turned, opened the door near 
which he stood, and they passed out of the gallery. The door 
closed, and the voices of the monks became distant and unreal. 
The visit was over. 

During the whole time Mrs. Wood had felt as one in a 
dream; and as one in a dream she now passed down the 
staircase and through the long, cold vaulted corridors. Once 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 141 

more they stood in the entrance hall, the door opened, admitting 
a flood of moonlight ; a pressure of the hand was all that 
passed between Mr. Wood and Fr^re Jeronimo, and the door 
closed upon the midnight visitors. They were in the outer 
world again, surrounded by the wholesome influence of the sky, 
the mountains and pine forests, and heaven's pure air. Then, 
and then only, Mrs. Wood breathed freely. 

"If I had known, I could not have undertaken it!" was 
all the remonstrance she ever uttered. "Suppose by some 
chance — such things will happen — we had been discovered ? " 

" My dear," returned her husband, " it was impossible. I 
knew what I was about, and so did Frere Jeronimo, as he calls 
himself now. You don't suppose I would have subjected you 
to the slightest risk. But I was determined that you should 
see the inside of a monastery, if it could be managed, and hear 
something of a midnight mass. It seemed a pity you 
should take this moonlight drive, and not have this at the end 
of it. Nor was it difficult, as you perceive ; and you are not 
the first of your sex by many who has seen a monastic interior. 
The happiest man to-night in that building is Fr^re Jeronimo 
at the thought of having rendered me a service. But our visit 
must be kept a profound secret for his sake. What an 
existence ! " 

And Mrs. Wood never knew whether the remembrance 
gave her pleasure or pain. A nervousness had come upon 
her in that midnight gallery she never liked to recall. But 
in after years she would often lose herself in a vision of 
that wonderful drive, the moonlit mountains and forests, 
the weird and ghostly silence upon all. For many a long 



142 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

day she could hear the solemn tolling of midnight upon the 
startled air, and imagine that she saw phantom forms flitting 
up the mountain passes, in and out of the dense pine forests. 

They found the carriage where they had left it, the horses' 
heads turned towards St. Laurent. And what Mr. Wood had 
remarked was quite true : the strange novelty of the scene and 
situation had driven away fatigue. It is also certain, as we have 
said, that no one but he, daring in all his thoughts, accustomed 
to success, to his own will and way, with energy and activity 
beyond the lot of most men, would have planned such an 
excursion. 

Twenty years ago, when the writer visited the monastery, 
he asked the Fr^re Procureur — then Fr^re Gerasime — of 
Fr^re Jeronimo. For answer the brother led the way to the 
cemetery, and pointed to a grave marked by a small wooden 
cross. Frbre Jeronimo had been lying there ten years. What- 
ever his history, whatever the troubles and sorrows for which 
he had fled from the world, all was over. He was at rest. 

Frhre Gerasime himself was a fat, round-faced, good- 
humoured brother, who could not speak without laughing, and 
looked as if life had been a series of feast days, instead of the 
fasts the monastery imposed. Care and trouble had never 
driven him from the world ; but rather a certain indolence of 
disposition, an unwillingness to take thought for the things of 
the morrow, well suited to a monastic life. The days and the 
years passed quietly and peacefully ; he had no care or concern ; 
it was not brave, perhaps, but it suited him; and as Fr^re 
Procureur he came into frequent and pleasant contact with 
visitors, who brought in with them a sufficient atmosphere of 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 143 

the outside world to content him. He said that he was perfectly 
happy, and his appearance confirmed his words. 

Full of variety, full of movement, full of charm was the life of 
Mrs. Wood at this period. Much more of those days might 
be recorded, for they were full of incident ; but sufficient has 
been written to place before the reader a picture of that far-off 
time when as yet neither trouble on the one side nor fame on 
the other had laid its hand upon the author of East Lynne, 

But it was a quiet life. There were no great dramas to be 
recorded. Life is not made up of dramas, but of common- 
place, everyday events. Happy those lives that are without 
dramas. Mrs. Henry Wood's days flowed in a calm, even stream, 
surrounded by friends, by everything heart could desire; a 
husband who was most popular amongst men, and failed in 
nothing but the administration of his own affairs. Amongst 
other great works, he undertook to establish and bring into 
operation one or two of the large French railways, and, in 
spite of great opposition, by his influence and powers of 
organisation he triumphantly succeeded. Nothing was beyond 
his grasp — nothing excepting his personal interests. He was 
extremely wealthy at one time simply because wealth would 
and did come to him ; and he might have become, without 
effort, one of the richest men in France. But the fickle 
goddess will not be courted for ever ; there comes a time when 
she withdraws her favours if they are lightly esteemed. 

Of society and much of its higher ranks Mrs. Wood had 
abundant experience. Her true and steadfast nature was 
formed for friendship of the highest description, and she 
never lost a friend once made. She was as popular and 



144 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

beloved in her way as her husband was in his. Many lifelong 
intimacies were the result ; most of them amongst the French 
— that nation she grew so much to like, and in whom she 
saw so much that was good. Her earnest purpose seemed to 
draw out all that was best in those she saw frequently. She 
always thought good of every one. Without guile herself, she 
never saw guile in others. Yet the smallest deviation from 
the right path filled her with a nameless horror, which in later 
years — as a friend has observed who only knew her in later 
years — might have made her severe but that she possessed in 
so large a measure the " charity that thinketh no evil." 

But the life w^e have described was not to last. There 
came a day when their early home knew them no more, 
when much that life held dear and sacred had to be 
parted from for ever. What that parting was to Mrs. Wood 
will never be known. She never spoke of it. It must 
have been trouble too deep for words, setting its seal upon 
her for all time. With her husband it was quite different. 
He lost none of his gaiety or charm ; his sanguine nature saw 
all things in rose-colour. Probably he never had a day's 
depression throughout life. 

We know not with whom to compare Mrs. Henry Wood in 
her years of trial. No life opening in brilliancy was ever for 
a time more clouded by sorrow and suffering; but through all she 
was the quiet and refined gentlewoman whose simple, undemon- 
strative piety emphatically rendered her home blessed and sacred. 
In those days and years her profoundly religious nature came 
to her aid, and enabled her to pass through heart-troubles and 
worldly cares with the calmness, almost the exaltation of a 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 145 

saint. She rose above them in every sense of the word. No 
protest ever went up to Heaven — " Lord, why am I thus 
afflicted?" But, on the contrary — "Thou doest all things 
well ! " The first verse of the first Psalm for the day of her 
birth — the 17th of the month — became often a silent prayer 
in days of trial. This was never told, but an incident once 
occurred which caused us to feel that it was so. Even in 
times of deep sorrow she never failed to think and to utter 
from inmost feeling and conviction — "For Thou, Lord, art 
good and gracious : and of great mercy unto them that call 
upon Thee." For years it was her practice to retire to her 
room for half an hour every evening alone ; and the half-hour 
was spent in fervent prayer and earnest reading and meditation, 
in renewing strength for the trials of daily life. 

Mr. Wood's spirit and lightness, it has been said, never 
forsook him. He was at all times charming, brilliant, full 
of life. "To-morrow the roses and garlands will fade," the 
poet sings ; with Mr. Wood it was the opposite. To-morrow 
dead roses and garlands would bloom again. He lived in 
Utopia. Yet only in the things that concerned himself. In all 
concerning others he was an excellent counsellor, quick-judging, 
and with admirable common-sense. He would frequently give 
many days and much thought to the affairs of a friend — in 
which he had no more personal interest than in the ebb and 
flow of the tide — and overcome difficulties that would have 
landed any one else in disaster. 

Perhaps, after all, we are not describing a very uncom- 
mon character ; but it is rare when allied to such intellectual 
powers as Mr. Wood possessed. 

10 



146 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

France continued to be their home for many years. They 
both loved the country. At one time, indeed, Mr. Wood had 
almost been persuaded into becoming a naturalised Frenchman, 
and was only checked by the fact that his sons would then 
be under French rule, liable to conscription and other laws 
affecting the liberty of the subject. No doubt it would have 
added to his influence ; but he was a true Englishman at heart ; 
and, his mind once made up to remain an Englishman, the 
question passed, and never again came under consideration. 

France, we say, continued to be their home. They both 
loved it, and had many friends in various parts of the 
country whom it was a great pleasure occasionally to meet. 
Mrs. Wood's health was also very delicate at times, and it was 
supposed that the climate of France was more suited to her 
than that of England. 




CHAPTER XIV 

" Til[ all al once beyond the will 
I hear a wiiard music roll. 
And through a lattice on the soul 
Looks thy fair face and makea it still." 

The following in- 
cident does not be- 
long to thiis period 
of Mrs. Wood's 
life. Many years liad 
passed away ; mucii 
iiad happened. East 
Lynne had been pub- 
lished some time, 
and Mr. Wood bad 
recently died. All 
the old life had 
ceased to be, a new 
order reigned. But 
St. woi-PHAii's. as an incident of 

travel it seems a fitting conclusion to the pages that have gone 

before. 




148 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Mrs. Wood had always been an excellent traveller to whom 
fear was unknown. Yet at the time of which we are writing 
there had grown upon her a singular phase of nervousness : she 
felt it almost impossible to cross the Channel. She, who had 
crossed it many times in roughest weather without the slightest 
hesitation, at last found that the calmest day was beyond her 
courage. 

It arose from the circumstance that once when crossing 
from Dieppe the machinery broke down. The sea was 
frightfully rough, and the vessel came to a standstill until 
what was wrong could be put right. This took nearly twelve 
hours, and during part of that time they were in a certain 
amount of danger. There was much alarm on board amongst 
the passengers, and Mrs. Wood grew nervous, though maintain- 
ing her usual outward calmness. At length the machinery was 
repaired, the vessel proceeded, and fears subsided. 

But the voyage, in place of being under six hours, was nearly 
eighteen, and there had been much anxiety on shore respecting 
the safety of the boat. Instead of landing in daylight the 
passengers now landed in the night, and Mrs. Wood, possessing 
excellent sight by day, suffered from what is known as night- 
blindness — an inability to distinguish surrounding objects visible 
to others. In passing from the boat to the train she fell over a 
rope, and in the fall her hand was so badly sprained that for 
many years after she had to wear at times an elastic bandage 
designed for her by Sir Henry Thompson. Altogether the voyage 
had been trying; and from that time a fear of crossing the 
Channel by the longer route grew more and more strong, 
until the effort became too great an ordeal. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 149 

Thus it happened that once when she was desirous of 
joining her friend Mrs. Milner-Gibson at Dieppe, rather than 
take the voyage by way of Newhaven, she preferred to cross 
to Boulogne, and take the longer and at that time tedious 
though interesting journey by land. On that occasion she was 
accompanied by one of her sons. The short sea journey was 
passed without trouble, and the train carried the travellers on 
to Abbeville. Here the night had to be spent : the remainder 
of the journey would be taken by diligence, which started the 
next morning. 

Perhaps Abbeville has changed less than many places, and 
yet it is now very different from what it was in those days. 
Mrs. Wood had never visited Abbeville, although well 
acquainted with the neighbourhood, and was delighted with 
the quaint old town, sleepy and quiet, yet full of a bygone 
charm and of old-world architecture. Above the banks of the 
river rose a long row of wonderful houses whose gabled roofs 
found their reflections in the placid stream. A canal ran 
through the town under streets and houses that had existed for 
ages. Some of the streets were so narrow that you might pass 
from one latticed window to its opposite neighbour in mid-air ; 
and in truth the crumbling tenements were occasionally more 
picturesque than tempting. The house of Francis I., however, 
was an exception in its old and roomy courtyard, where vines 
then grew upon the walls. It was a vision of age and beauty, 
the embodiment of an artist's dream, carrying one back to the 
centuries when Francis I. sat upon the throne of his fathers* 
strengthened its power and encouraged art. The house still 
exists, but in a less perfect condition than at that period. 



ISO MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Here, as everywhere in France, Mrs. Wood felt at home. 
For long years the language had been as familiar to her as 
English; whilst her gentle manner appealed to the Celtic 
temperament, and rich and poor loved her. She admired them 
also, and, as we have said, possessed the faculty of all good 
and pure minds, of only thinking good of others. Though 
quietest of the quiet and calmest of the calm, she admired 
their vivacity, their life and verve, their gay temperament, the 
very gestures they could not speak without using. 

Those were charming and memorable hours spent at 
Abbeville. The hotel was one of the oldest and most 
picturesque houses in the town, but has long since dis- 
appeared; and the host ushered Madame to a sitting-room 
fitted up with the taste of a past age, opening to a bedroom 
Louis XIV. might have furnished for His Majesty's own 
occupation. But the host apologised that for Monsieur 
there was nothing better to offer than a room in the grenier — 
comfortable, but high up and homely. The rooms not 
occupied at that moment were undergoing repair. There was 
only one other family in the house — the Comte de Marseine 
and Madame his mother — but they had taken nearly all the 
habitable apartments. 

Here, indeed, was a strange coincidence, which for a moment 
rendered Mrs. Wood silent with surprise, then filled her with 
delight. 

And so once more the old friends met in this singular 
manner, this out -of- the -world spot; and once again the 
world seemed smaller than it is. A delightful evening 
followed, in which the ladies were full of reminiscences of 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 151 

the past. The reason for the de Marseines' present sojourn 
at Abbeville was that the old Comtesse de Marseine, Mrs. 
Wood's friend, had a sister living at a chateau in the neigh- 
bourhood — Madame St. Ange — and this sister, in failing health, 
had begged them to come to the old town for what would be 
to her probably a last visit. 

"You see, ch^re enfant," — Mrs. Wood smiled at the old 
familiar way of addressing her, — "the Chateau de St. Ange 
is only a league from the town ; and, as I never could get on 
with the husband of Adelaide, I felt that a frigid week spent 
under their roof would be too much for my nerves. So here 
we have installed ourselves ; and we meet every day, and are 
excellent friends, he and I. I am not anxious about my sister. 
I think she has grown nervous about herself — she has had 
a trying life with her fidgety old husband, who calls her 
* Madame,* and treats her with as much ceremony as if 
she were his queen instead of his wife, and is as cold as an 
icicle, and altogether fossilised. But as far as I can see, 
Adelaide is in excellent health. She is my junior by three 
years, and I am only seventy-two. You know I was a 
de Kerkad^, one of the ancient families of Brittany — 
ancient, my dear, in every sense of the word, for we never 
think of dying under ninety, any one of us. Only my poor 
great-uncle died when he was seventy-four; killed when out 
boar-hunting : a judgment, some said, for boar-hunting at an 
age when he ought to have done with frivolities. But at 
seventy-four we are quite juvenile. My uncle killed his boar, 
and the head hangs up in the great hall of my old home 
— together with a good many other boars' heads — overlooking 



152 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

our enchanting grounds and gardens, abounding in old- 
fashioned flowers, tall lilies and sweet-scented roses, and 
wonderful old wells decorated with ancient ironwork. Yes, 
Adelaide has twenty good years before her. And I give you 
my word that I don't myself feel a day older than when I was 
forty years of age, and we used to sit, you and I, out upon the 
terraces, talking of the past and the future, and listening to the 
nightingales. This is something for a Frenchwoman to say 
— but then I am Bretonne." 

" And you have not changed," remarked Mrs. Wood. " You 
do not look a day older than when we last met nine years ago." 

" Nine years ! " echoed Madame de Marseine. " Yes, it is 
indeed nine years, yet it seems only yesterday. Time flies. 
Before I can turn round my twenty years will have passed, 
and both Adelaide and I will be no more. As for you, 
ch^re enfant, that lovely face is more lovely, more youthful 
than ever. If you live to be ninety, you will never grow 
old. And then your success ! Who would have supposed 
this quiet person had so much in her ! But I was sure there 
was much more behind those eyes than the world imagined, 
and you may remember that I told you so. I read your 
East Lynne in French first of all, translated by Mr. North 
Peat, who called it Lady Isabel ; and then I read it in English. 
It is a pity that any great work has to be translated — the 
essence evaporates. And so you are going to Dieppe, to 
make there la pluie et le beau temps, AVell, we will come and 
spend ten days also, for the sake of being with you. We have 
several friends there at this moment — charming people whom 
you must know." 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 153 

It was a very pleasant incident, which made the visit to 
Abbeville more than memorable. 

The grenier referred to proved delightful, high up and 
humble though it was. Admirable from an artistic point of 
view, with a lovely sixteenth-century dormer window and latticed 
panes, from which one looked out upon a wonderful assemblage 
of slanting ancient red and gray roofs, magnificent in tone, 
backed by the rich and picturesque towers of the church 
of St. Wolfram. And in the early morning it was worth 
a king's ransom to watch the breaking of dawn, and the 
wonderful light and colour spreading in an almost cloudless 
sky ; the sun rising in splendour behind the church towers. 

That morning was market-day, and Abbeville, for a quiet 
town, was full of sound and bustle. About six o^clock the 
factory people, men and women, hastened to their daily work ; 
causing a small commotion, a crisp sound of many feet upon 
the pavements, many of them wearing sabots, which gave 
out a sharp sound like the falling of hail. The women 
wore white caps, which alone lifted them out of the realms of 
the commonplace. If they could only reahse how much they 
have lost, would they return to their old ways ? The people 
of Picardy have become very uninteresting ; plain and rugged, 
with harsh shrill voices that seem laden with the coldness of 
their northern atmosphere. But on that bygone day every- 
thing was charming, old-world, and primitive; it was still 
the age of beauty and picturesqueness ; streets and houses 
matched wonderfully with the people; not a shadow of the 
coming change had fallen. 

The market-place was crowded with buyers and sellers. 



154 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Quite early in the morning ladies and servants had assembled 
with their baskets for the mid-week's purchases. Many of the 
market-women were decorated with gold chains and earrings, 
often really artistic — heirlooms handed down from mother to 
daughter, of which they were proud and careful as an old 
English baron of his pedigree. No oflfer would have per- 
suaded one of them to part with her jewels, for they were a 
badge of the respectability of the wearer and the antiquity 
of her race. Everything was clean and tempting; butter, 
poultry, and vegetables ; the latter arranged almost as one sees 
them in the far South and in Italy ; a scene that charmed Mrs. 
Wood. She delighted in entering into conversation with some 
of the fresh, comely market-women decked out in their gold 
ornaments and caps. Romantic and interesting they looked 
in their way, these women of Abbeville, wives and daughters 
of the small farmers of the neighbourhood. As Mrs. Wood 
went through the market she was of course apostrophised by 
many an anxious seller of ducks, chickens and fresh Picardy 
produce. All reminded her of days gone by, when in her 
southern home, like all the ladies of the neighbourhood, she had 
accompanied her housekeeper to market, for the pleasure of 
seeing what was going on, and of being in touch with her trades- 
people, and where, as old Venus had .poetically expressed it, 
she came to them as a ray of sunshine. Only in such a country 
as France is such a state of things possible; and in leaving 
France this universally good understanding was a condition 
of life she much regretted. 

Rarely, in her southern French home or elsewhere, had she 
gazed upon a more picturesque scene than this market-place 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 155 

framed in by the quaint houses. Only the one charm was 
absent — they were all strangers to her. She could not inquire 
into the joys and sorrows of their simple and straightforward 
lives. No doubt all had their share of vicissitudes, but the 
tragic element was absent; few had skeletons in the cup- 
board. There is not a better, more quietly conducted class 
than the small farmers of France. Temperate and indus- 
trious, their simple annals are marked by seed-time and 
harvest, summer and winter. The men are peaceable, and 
have few vices ; especially the sin of intemperance is rare. The 
women make good helpmates. As for the comely daughters 
of that Abbeville morning, they were only entering upon life ; 
it would have been sad if as yet they knew much of its sorrows. 

The whole town, we have said, was full of little old-world 
bits of architecture. Gabled houses with dormer windows and 
latticed panes, with red roofs beautiful with that rich tone that 
only age can give. Conspicuous in its beauty, rising splendidly 
above the quaint clusters of roofs, was the church of St. Wolfram, 
gaining so much by its unrestored condition — a church never 
finished, and destined to much greater magnificence by that 
Cardinal d'Amboise, who, three centuries ago, had something 
to do with many of the churches of France. Whatever 
may be thought or said of him, much of his work is a 
dream of beauty — and what more can be desired ? Had the 
original designs been carried out, Abbeville would almost have 
rivalled Amiens — would indeed have surpassed it: and as 
Wren wept over his rejected St. Paul's, so it is said the archi- 
tect wept over St. Wolfram's. 

There is still much that is lovely about it, and much on 



156 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

which Mrs. Wood gazed with true appreciation. The magnifi- 
cent flamboyant fagade ; the beautiful Renaissance doors, three 
splendid portals richly decorated ; the fine towers, conspicuous 
for many a mile round in the flat but fertile country ; all the 
flowing tracery ; the niches, still rich in old statues that sur- 
vived the days of revolution and bloodshed ; and the refined 
light buttresses which formed the charm of the otherwise dis- 
appointing interior. 

By ten o'clock all had to be ended, for at ten the diligence 
started for Eu. The de Marseines accompanied Mrs. Wood to 
the starting-point. It was an extremely hot day, bright and 
sunny. There were no other passengers. According to French 
fashion, Madame de Marseine kissed Mrs. Wood on both cheeks 
— a process to which she patiently submitted. They had been 
great friends in the past, but even with her greatest friends 
Mrs. Wood was not demonstrative. 

"You will lunch at Eu, chhre enfant," said Madame de 
Marseine : " a quiet little place, with nothing to see. But at 
least there is the famous chateau. Go to it ; ask for the head 
gardien ; tell him that Madame de Marseine confides you to 
his care. The name will be a talisman. He will conduct you 
through it, and give you the history of every picture — every 
room in the place. Ay di me I I stayed there with my dear 
husband in 1843, ^s the guest of poor Louis Philippe. It 
was just after your Queen Victoria had visited him, and I 
remember his telling me how frank and charming and simple 
he had thought the young Queen of England, how hand- 
some and noble and good her husband. Poor King ! he 
enjoyed many a happy year in the Chateau d'Eu, which 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 157 

he restored so magnificently after his mother's death; but 
in 1843 his own time was approaching; a few more years, 
and he was an exile. When I think of the beauty and 
grace of Marie Antoinette, in that first revolution of '93, 
— that wonderful head submitting to the scaffold; when I 
remember the last time I was with Marie Am^lie, at Versailles, , 
and the happy moments we spent in what had been Marie 
Antoinette's favourite Trianon — how it* has all passed, how 
it all passes — we may well say that everything is vanity and 
vexation of spirit. It does not do to recall those times. I 
only wonder that we — friends of the King and Queen — 
Royalists — were spared a similar destiny. Revolutions . are 
the horrors of history — institutions for the savage tribes of 
earth, but for none else. Chfere enfant, the diligence grows 
impatient. We must part. Au revoir k Dieppe ! " 

" Et sans adieu," laughed young de Marseine — head of the 
family since his father had died seven years ago. 

" A quinze jours d'ici," added his mother ; " we shall meet 
again in a fortnight. I will write to-day to the hotel. You 
can even speak to the proprietor for me ; one salon, five 
bedrooms — as near your own apartments as possible." 

The " impatient diligence " waited to hear no more. With 
infinite cracking of whip and distressful rattling over the stones 
of Abbeville, the conveyance started on its way; the de 
Marseines watching and waving a final good-bye as it went 
out of sight. 

The little incident was over, but had been singularly pleasant 
to Mrs. Wood, and she afterwards often alluded to it as one 
of those chances of travel to which we have referred. " You 



158 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 



tried to persuade me to cross by way of Newhaven," she laughed, 
as the diligence rattled through the quaint old town. " What 
a pleasure we should have lost if you had succeeded. But for 
meeting them here, the de Marseines would never have come 
to Dieppe." 

"One must never try to persuade you again," was the reply ; 
"with you 'whatever is, is right' It is always so." 

And in everything excepting time and trouble the present 
route was infinitely more agreeable, giving a variety of changes 
in a very short time, and taking the travellers through scenes 
that were then full of primitive interest and quiet charm. 




CHAPTER XV 



" So many woilds, so much to do. 

So lillle done, such things to be. 
How know I what had need of thee, 
For thou wert strong as thou wert true ? " 

The surrounding 
country, as we have 
said, was flat, but rich 
and fertile. The dili- 
gence passed through 
long, straight roads, 
such as France loves ; 
but the stiff poplars 
so often found by the 
wayside were absent. 
In place there were 
green hedgerows, 
which made, and 
still make, the 
scenery of Picardy 
and Normandy very English: smiling and luxuriant Field 
after field, league after league, a succession of pastures, 




i6o MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

cultivated lands, and orchards laden with the small cider- 
apple. 

At last the small, sleepy town of Eu loomed in the 
distance, and soon the diligence came to a stand stillin the 
centre of its irregular market-place, with little to recommend 
it beyond its primitive life. The diligence was the event of 
the day. No one ever came to remain here, but people 
arrived on their way to Tr^port, the small neighbouring sea- 
side resort 

Here at Eu occurred another singular coincidence, of 
which life is so full. No sooner had the diligence stopped 
than a small group of people, unmistakably English, wended 
their way across the small square, came up to it, and accosted 
the conducteur and the travellers. 

" We have come to meet Mrs. Wood," said the senior lady 
of the party — "Mrs. Wood and her son. I do not see them 
here." 

" I am Mrs. Wood," was the surprised answer, " and I am 
accompanied by my son ; but it is impossible that any one 
could be here* to meet us. No one knows of our being 
at Eu." 

" It is very strange," returned the leader in aggrieved tones, 
looking at the travellers as though they had transformed them- 
selves into other people, as they do in fairy tales. " I never 
knew anything so extraordinary. Not once in six months do 
any English arrive by the diligence — we are living over here 
and ought to know. Yesterday we received a letter from 
General Paling asking us to be sure to go to the diligence 
to-day and meet Mrs. Wood and her son; we do so; Mrs. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD i6i 

Wood and her son arrive, but it is not the Mrs. Wood and 
her son." 

"It cannot be," laughed Mrs. Henry Wood, "I am not 
acquainted with General PaHng, and therefore he could not 
have written to any one about us. It is certainly singular, but 
can only be a coincidence." 

Upon which the strangers bowed and withdrew with 
injured expressions. They evidently felt a great wrong had 
been done to them \ it was clearly a subject for a grievance. 
Finally they disappeared across the Place in earnest conversa- 
tion, every now and then looking back reproachfully at the 
innocent diligence. 

At Eu the travellers had some hours to wait. In a small 
salon of the hotel, only a degree removed from a restaurant, a 
simple dejeuner was served. Pewter spoons were all that 
could be produced for the soup, and two-pronged forks for 
the modest bouilli. But the coffee was excellent — it always 
was so in those days ; now it is rather the exception ; you 
must go farther north for it, to the shores of Sweden and 
Norway. But if the pewter spoons at Eu were primitive, 
the coffee was served in pure white china, for once delicately 
thin. That which redeemed the hotel was the woman who 
waited in a picturesque Normandy costume — for she came 
from the neighbourhood of Rouen, and was proprietress of the 
establishment. She, too, was decked out with heavy gold 
ornaments, evidently hastily put on in honour of Madame. 

A short walk after dejeuner^ and the chiteau was reached. 
Those were the days of Napoleon III., to whcun it then 
belonged. Later the French Republic, by a graceful act of 

II 



i62 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

justice, restored it to the Comte de Paris. It stood in its well- 
kept park : a low building of red brick with slate roofs, 
bearing unmistakable traces of sixteenth -century architecture, 
contrasting well with the green of the magnificent timber. 
Here had once stood a castle in which the ill-fated Harold had 
visited William of Normandy, so long ago that only to think 
of it was like looking back upon another and a far-off world. 
The ground was sacred to history. 

On asking for the gardien a venerable old man presented 
himself, who must long since have been added to his fore- 
fathers. The name of Madame de Marseine acted as a 
talisman, as she had foretold. With a low bow, worthy of the 
court of Louis Philippe, he placed himself at Madame's 
disposal and was her humble servitor. He would do the 
honours of the chateau ; it was too great a privilege to attend 
upon any friend of Madame la Comtesse. 

Royally he did his duty. Here had sat Marie Am^lie; 
there she had written her letters. Here, on this very floor, in 
the days of his great-uncle, Marie Antoinette had danced the 
minuet de la cour — most beautiful and graceful of assembled 
ladies. His uncle had told him how he had seen the King's 
eyes light up with admiration as he watched the popularity 
of the Queen, though demonstrativeness was not a character- 
istic of Louis XVI. In that cabinet, Louis Philippe had trans- 
acted many of his state affairs, and passed many an anxious 
hour when the evil days were drawing near. For his part he 
thought that with more discretion and better counsel the 
Revolution of 1848 might have been avoided, and the King 
and Queen have ended their days comfortably in their own 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 163 

palace instead of in a foreign land. It was not for him to 
say, but the humblest man could not close his eyes if nature 
had given him a little intelligence. And he had been so great 
a favourite with the King and Queen, so much about their 
persons, that naturally what little was good and intelligent 
about him had come to the surface. 

And so he went on, as he led the way through apartments 
resplendent with gilding, and corridors hung with portraits. 
Many a small anecdote of the King and Queen he narrated — 
trifling circumstances, which gained their interest from the 
delicate romance and sadness which must ever surround all 
exiled monarchs. 

On leaving, the douceur he would not have been above 
accepting on ordinary occasions was modestly declined. 
"Monsieur," he said, with deprecation, as if fearing to 
offend, "it is already too much honour to escort any friends 
of the Comtesse de Marseine, so great a friend of my King 
and Queen, and from whom I have received in days gone by 
many marks of favour. I beg Monsieur's pardon, if he allows 
me to retain of this visit the only recollection that can gratify 
me : that of having once more rendered Madame de Marseine 
a small service, and of doing it for the love of the days that 
are gone. I shall not have many more occasions." 

Quite a graceful little speech, delivered in a manner worthy 
of a courtier — from the heart, too, for there were tears in the 
old man's eyes as he escorted the travellers to the gates of the 
park and bowed them away with as much ceremony as if on 
either side he saw the melancholy shades of Louis Philippe and 
Marie Am^lie smiling approval. 



i64 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

It had been a memorable little visit. The old gardien 
had contrived to bring into it quite a royal and historical 
interest. An unwritten page in the past had been recorded ; 
the figures of Louis Philippe and Marie Am^lie had stood 
out clearly ; for a moment he had brought them back to life ; 
one had almost heard their tones and footsteps in passing 
through the rooms once haunted by them : where, twenty 
years before, they might still have been found with the first 
shadows upon their faces of approaching evil. 

The scene changed to Tr^port, with its broad expanse of 
sea quietly breaking upon a flat, shingly shore ; the most 
quaint and curious and confined little place ever seen, and 
the most absolutely French. In those days it consisted of 
a few houses little better than bungalows, thrown, as it were, 
without plan or sequence upon a small, out-of-the-way corner 
of the earth, which might also be called the very ends of the 
world. It has now a harbour, a casino, fashionable hotels, 
and a town of some 4000 or 5000 inhabitants ; but it can 
never be otherwise than contracted; crowded with gay and 
chattering Parisians, who come here, year after year, for sea- 
bathing and flirting, and le grand air. 

Few English were ever seen there, and it was not surpris- 
ing that Mrs. Wood should attract attention as she walked 
upon the Plage, charmed with the sea, in which she ever 
delighted, charmed with the movement and animation 
around her. Children were playing their seaside games; 
mothers, nurses, grown-up brothers — all were in evidence, 
and in the full tide of enjoyment. Remarks were freely 
offered and easily overheard, much to her quiet amusement. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 165 

Recognising her as English, they possibly took it for granted, 
as people will do, that French was not understood. Many 
years have passed since then, but not the smallest incident of 
this journey is forgotten. 

" A new arrival ! " 

" And English too ! *' 

"Is it possible that Tr^port is becoming known, and the 
English are going to invade us — coming over to criticise, with 
their superior airs of morality ? " 

" Ma chbre, one swallow does not make a summer. Don't 
be unnecessarily alarmed. These new arrivals may be only 
birds of passage — visitors of an hour, for all we know." 

" Who can she be ? " 

" Probably an English lady visiting in the neighbourhood. 
Perhaps the Chateau d'Eu. But no ; no one is there at 
present. It is in possession of the gardiens and the spiders, 
and they have an easy time of it." 

" Her companion bears just sufficient resemblance to see 
that they are related — probably a younger brother." 

It was ever so \ Mrs. Wood possessed the secret of per- 
petual youth. Some years before the above incident she was 
crossing over to England, when a lady sat down beside her on 
the deck and entered into conversation. 

"I was speaking just now to your two brothers," she 
remarked; "asking them " 

" My two brothers ? " interrupted Mrs. Wood questioningly. 

"Yes, those two gentlemen standing at the other end 
there." 

" The one is my husband, the other my eldest son," laughed 



i66 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Mrs. Wood The son in question was then a lad of seventeen, 
her husband was forty years of age : in those days as young- 
looking as herself. 

But years had rolled on since that crossing. The youthful- 
looking husband was no more, and Mrs. Wood had passed through 
much tribulation. At the time of her husband's death she was 
writing " Oswald Cray." Appearing in Good Words month by 
month, the monthly portion had to be sent in, in spite of all ; 
work could not be laid aside, however great the strain. She 
bravely kept up to the last page, and then the overwrought 
nerves broke down. 

" I can do nothing," she said to her doctor in some alarm. 
" I cannot sleep. I cannot read. It seems too much even to 
look at a letter. What does it mean ? " 

"It means, my dear lady, that you have overtaxed your 
powers," returned the doctor. "You have gone through a 
time of great emotion, which alone was sufficient mental strain. 
In addition to this you have worked, and now that your 
work is done and the strain is over, your nerves have given 
way." 

"Do you think I shall recover?" she asked, in some 
anxiety. 

" Yes, if you follow my directions. The mischief is func- 
tional, not organic. You must take four months' rest ; neither 
look at a book nor read a paper, nor think of a plot or a 
novel. Leave your present surroundings. Go over to your 
beloved France, where I have heard you say you feel so much 
at home. The life and movement there is exactly what you 
require. You love the water ; sit in front of it and watch it 



* MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 167 

day after day. Nothing in the world is so soothing to nerves 
and brain as to watch that ever- changing sea. In short, for 
the next four months, as far as all intellectual pursuits are 
concerned, you must live the life of a vegetable." 

Mrs. Wood laughed. "It is a severe remedy," she said, 
"and will be difficult to carry out. But if it is necessary, 
it shall be done '; and I feel that it ts necessary." 

The result proved the wisdom of the advice. Mrs. Wood 
left home, and for four months England knew her no more. 
" The life of a vegetable " was adopted ; books, letters, papers, 
everything that could tax the brain put aside. At the end of 
that time she returned to England with health restored. 

And now, on this day when Trdport was visited, she was 
once more on her way to Dieppe, which had become her 
favourite watering-place. The scraps of conversation had 
afforded much amusement as they were caught, and much 
more was said that need not be recorded. The English lady 
who had caused some temporary commotion in the little world of 
Treport quickly disappeared, and was seen no more. The Plage 
and its little crowd no doubt resumed their normal condition. 

Meanwhile Mrs. Wood had returned to Eu, where the 
diligence, still in the shape of a two -horse omnibus, was 
preparing for the journey to Dieppe. Again they were the 
only travellers. Mrs. Wood, ever considerate to others, first 
entered the hotel to say " Bon jour " to Madame. 

La Patrone, who combined the sincerity of the Norman 
with a dash of French fervour, was charmed at the little 
mark of attention. 

"To the pleasure of seeing Madame again," she cried. 



i68 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD * 

" I would that my small hotel had the honour of receiving 
Madame for a longer s^jour; I should have the distinction 
of waiting upon her myself. I regret that of all days in 
the year my husband is not at home to assure Madame that 
he would devote his energies to her comfort. He has gone 
to Lille upon a small matter of business. It may interest 
Madame to know that we have a propri^t^ there ; small and 
humble, it is true, but a family possession. We had let it 
to people apparently of integrity; but they have gone off 
and never paid their rent, and we hear that the place is in 
disorder. My husband has gone to see to it. 'He is good 
and easy with people, but this time he is furious, and the law 
will soon find out where these malfaiteurs have escaped to. 
Only, as Madame knows, you cannot draw water from a dry 
well, and I fear we shall do no good by going after them. 
Voilk romnibus ! " 

For the little domestic episode had been given during the 
passage from the hotel to the diligence, under Madame's 
polite escort. The narration bore witness to Mrs. Wood's 
immediate influence upon people — the more remarkable that 
she never sought or invited confidences, and in manner with 
strangers was quiet almost to reticence. 

La Patrone was resplendent in gold chain and earrings and 
picturesque Norman cap, bodice and petticoat — garments not 
assumed every day, she declared. She had been a very hand- 
some woman, as so many of the Normans are, with fine heads 
well set upon their shoulders, magnificent figures, and a carriage 
upright as a dart — the heritage of a long line of ancestors, 
humble though they may be. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 169 

Such was the hostess of Eu ; but she had long passed her 
youth, and indeed talked of retiring to the little propri^t^ in Lille 
which had been so cavalierly treated by the missing tenants. 
They could just live upon their rentes, she said ; and after all 
it was no use slaving until you dropped into the grave, where 
you certainly could enjoy nothing. There were no children, and 
no one to put by for — only themselves to think about. She 
longed to leave sleepy Eu, with its ugly Place, no two sides 
alike, where the only distraction was change of weather and 
the daily diligence. In Lille there was always something 
going on ; and they had relations there — sisters and cousins of 
her husband. She herself had originally come from Duclair, a 
pretty village not far from Rouen, on the road to Caudebec 
and Havre, with its fine old church, wonderful marble pillars, 
and dragon mouths which supported the roof. Perhaps 
Madame knew Caudebec too, with its mascaret — that great 
wave which came twice a year, in March and October, and 
which people foretold just as astronomers foretold eclipses 
of the sun and moon. It was wonderful. On a given day 
excursionists would arrive, take their standing on the Plage, 
and all at once, as sure as the sky above them, the enormous 
wave came rolling in. Who knew whether, some fine* day, it 
would not be so enormous as to drown them all? 

The omnibus was ready to start. The coachman was 
mounting his box ; the whip sent off its fireworks. 

"Jean le cocher," cried la Patrone, "have a care to 
Madame in the interior. Don't drive too fast, and avoid 
the big stones on the road. They are so reckless," she ex- 
plained, "and sometimes drive furiously, especially if they 



170 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRV WOOD 



have had a glass or two of absinthe before starting, or get it 
en route. Au plaisir, Madame," as the reckless Jean whipped 
up his horses, and began to rattle over the stones of the little 
square. " If Madame will only descend here for a few days 
on her return from Dieppe, I shall be proud to wait upon 
her." 

And with her best bow, and looking a very picturesque 
member of society, la Patrone stood watching the diligence, 
straight and motionless as another Joan of Arc at the stake, 
until it turned the corner and was seen no more. But the 
result of the visit to Lille was never known, for the "few 
days' descent " at Eu never took place. As women rule the 
world, it is probable that la Patrone had her way, and they 
retired to their little propri^t^, finding happiness in a life of 
leisure, and escaping the dangers of uncertain tenants. 




CHAPTER XVI 



"So, dearest, now thy brows are cold, 

I see thee what thou art, and know 
Thy likeness to the wise below, 
Thy kindred with the great of old." 

The journey to 
Dieppe was much the 
same as the first part 
of the journey from 
Abbeville, excepting 
that it appeared 
somewhat longer and 
more tedious. The 
scenery was still flat 
and unvarying, and 
g ew a little monoto- 
nous ; long straight 
roads that seemed 
nterminable ; whilst 
Ho e t AH the dust under the 

horses feet flew n endless wh te clouds 

The on n bus had not gone very far before it stopped, and 




172 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

a picturesque nun entered and took her seat quietly. She 
glanced at Mrs. Wood, and then, with a graceful inclination 
and a " Bon jour, Madame," threw back her black veil, which 
must have been trying in the heat of the day. In spite of 
the placid face, one seemed to read sorrow and disappoint- 
ment in its expression. In youth she must have been beautiful. 

Presently, with another glance at her fellow-traveller, she 
spoke again. 

"Madame est Anglaise," she said, more as an assertion 
than a question. Her voice was soft and pleasant, her French 
such as the upper classes spoke ; she was evidently of gentle 
birth. Her age, as far as could be guessed, was about 
fifty. "It is not often that English ladies are seen in the 
uncomfortable Dieppe diligence," she continued ; " and to- 
day to make it still more uncomfortable we have only the 
omnibus." 

"We crossed over to Boulogne," explained Mrs. Wood, 
"and intended to go round by St. Valery-sur-Somme, but 
there is no longer any correspondence." 

"They are always changing their plans," remarked the 
nun, "and not always for the better. Madame has come 
round by Abbeville, where she must have stayed the night. 
It may chance that Madame is acquainted with Madame 
de St. Ange ? " 

"No," returned Mrs. Wood, smiling, and preparing for 
another coincidence; "I never met Madame de St. Ange; 
but her sister, Madame de Marseine, is my great friend. We 
spent the evening together yesterday." 

" How singular that we should meet, you and I, Madame, 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 173 

and in a public conveyance, and in this remote spot ! " cried 
the nun, with more enthusiasm than she had probably shown 
for many a day. " Of course I know Madame de Marseine as 
well as I know Madame de St. Ange ; but I have seen more 
of the latter, having passed much of my life in the same 
neighbourhood. We are related ; their father and mine 
were first cousins." 

"Yet you seem much younger than they," remarked Mrs. 
Wood. 

" I am younger, but not so much so as you might imagine," 
laughed the nun ; for nuns laugh sometimes. " I know that 
I look about fifty, but I am really sixty-two. Our quiet life, 
in which the emotions are suppressed and the days run 
calmly as a river, keeps the lines out of our faces." 

Then, after a few moments' pause and a keen glance at 
Mrs. Wood, she added : 

" I am sure you must be Madame Wood, of whom I have 
heard Madame de Marseine so often speak. Yet you also 
puzzle me, for you look only about thirty, and Madame Wood 
must be much more." 

"I am Madame Wood, and I am quite fifty," was the 
laughing reply; "yet I am not a nun, and have had my 
share of sorrow. I too have heard of you from Madame de 
Marseine; I am sure you must be Sceur Marie-Blanche." 

"I am indeed that most unfortunate personage," returned 
the nun sadly. " But this is one of the unexpected pleasures 
of my life. I have so long wanted to know you. You have 
bewitched Madame de Marseine, and we never meet but she 
talks of you. Of late years it has been to bewail your broken 



174 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

intercourse. I have also heard much of you from your cousin, 
Sceur Marie-Ursule, who is a nun of the Visitation. I do not 
belong to that order, but have sometimes stayed a week at a 
time in her convent. What a charming voice she had, what a 
wonderful harpist, and how truly good a woman. Her placid 
face bears the expression of a saint. She was a Miss Osborne, 
I think, in the old days." 

" Yes. She belonged to the Osbornes of Chelsley. They 
were Roman Catholics, as you may know. She was beautiful 
and accomplished, and was to have married in early life, but 
she had no dowry, and somehow it came to nothing. In her 
disappointment — I believe it really broke her heart — she took 
the veil and became a cloistered nun of that very strict order ; 
her beauty, accomplishments, goodness, all lost to the world. 
Do you know that she has never even seen a train, or any 
modern improvement ? " 

" Yet I do not pity her," returned Soeur Marie-Blanche, " for 
she has never repented the step. She has been happy in her 
life. She found her vocation ; whilst I " 

She paused. Mrs. Wood looked at her with sympathy. 
It was one of those life - histories in which she was ever 
interested. She did not speak, but waited for more. 

"Well I have not been happy," laughed Soeur Marie-Blanche. 
" As Marie-Ursule found her vocation, so I missed mine. As 
Marie de Kerkad^ I was to have married the Baron de Keruen 
— the head of a Breton family. We were much attached to 
each other — it was really a marriage d'amour, not merely 
de convenance. Everything was arranged, the wedding-day 
fixed. Three days before the event he went out shooting — and 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 175 

was brought home dead. Inconsolable, I seemed to lose all 
interest in life. My mother, a great devote, had often expressed 
a wish that I should take the veil — a singular and unhealthy 
wish, as I look upon it, for of all vocations it should never 
be forced upon any one. Again she proposed it, and I, not 
caring in my sorrow what became of me, yielded. I was to 
have become a cloistered nun, but it was soon seen that it 
would never do for me. I could never have borne the restraint 
and confinement. It would have driven me mad or killed me ; 
at the very least have uprooted what little good might be in 
me. My headquarters, as I may call them, are near Abbe- 
ville — my convent ; but I go about the world on all sorts of 
missions : sometimes nursing the sick ; sometimes on important 
business connected with our order. They look upon me as a 
female diplomatist. I must be actively engaged, and my 
happiest times are when I have most to do. Not infrequently 
I spend a whole week with my cousin, Madame de St. Ange, 
and so have kept up my interest with the world. I am really 
only half a nun, for I am allowed far more freedom than 
is often given to those buried women. My family, as you 
know, has great influence in certain quarters, and it is sup- 
posed that I have great influence with them. Now, the 
Osbornes were Roman Catholic ; but you, ch^re Madame " 

"Am a Protestant," quickly responded Mrs. Wood. " I have 
lived amongst Roman Catholics, some of my best friends 
are Roman Catholic, and some of my relatives ; but I am a 
Protestant, and hope to die in the faith of my fathers." 

"You are quite right," replied Sceur Marie - Blanche. 
" Though I should not dare to say it aloud — it would almost 



176 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

mean excommunication — I would not lift a finger to make a con- 
vert. I would have the world more large-minded, and let each 
keep to his faith — so long as the foundations of that faith are the 
same. We go to the same Fountain-head: let that suffice. 
But we must not enter upon a religious argument in a 
public conveyance. It might stop and admit some bigoted 
priest, who would report me and bring upon me all sorts of 
trouble and penances. Besides, I firmly believe that the birds 
of the air carry tales. I have opened my heart to you," she 
smiled ; " but though we have only just met, I seem to have 
known you long. You are of those who inspire confidence. 
Madame de Marseine has told me so many a time ; now I 
judge for myself. I did not know she was at Abbeville, though 
I knew she would probably go there. I have just come from 
Blangy, where I have had some work to do : Blangy with its 
ruins of St. Berthe as sole attraction for the explorer. Madame 
de St. Ange has fallen into the nervous condition which some- 
times attacks elderly people : she is always thinking that she is 
going to die. Of course the inevitable must come to all some 
time. She is not strong and needs sympathy. Unfortunately 
her frigid husband does not understand even the meaning of 
the virtue, though an excellent man in his way. Madame de 
Marseine, I need not tell you, is brimming over with it." 

" And are you now bound for Dieppe ? " asked Mrs. Wood. 

"Yes, truly. I have an important mission to perform there, 
which will take me quite a fortnight. So I trust we may often 
meet, that I may know you better. It will be a mutual topic 
of conversation with Madame de Marseine in days to come. 
I can go about as I please ; shall even be able to join you for 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 177 

an hour or two every day at the casino, if I do not make 
myself too conspicuous. Levity and frivolity are forbidden," 
she laughed, "but I may mix a little with the world. Du 
reste, levity never attracted me; life is too serious, and 
mine especially has been all sadness and sorrow — the sadness 
and sorrow of being constantly haunted with what might have 
been. But at sixty-two the most frivolous coquette would surely 
have become earnest and sober." 

So talking, the afternoon passed into evening, the shades of 
night fell, and it was almost dark when Dieppe was reached. 

"You go to the hotel," said Sceur Marie-Blanche, as the 
omnibus entered the narrow rattling streets of the old town ; 
" I to the convent. But what a benediction that I may come 
and go as I please ! " 

" Will you be allowed sometimes to spend an evening with 
us ? " asked Mrs. Wood. 

" Oh yes, provided I am in by ten o'clock. There are of 
course certain rules and conditions that I must observe, and 
that is one of them." 

" You will see Madame de Marseine, I hope, who has pro- 
mised to spend ten days here ; but it will be a week before 
she arrives. Then she returns to Abbeville for a final week 
with Madame de St Ange." 

"That is delightful!" cried Sceur Marie -Blanche. "We 
shall be a lively family party — for you are quite one of our- 
selves. What pleasant days and evenings shall we have ! I 
must discover complications in my mission that will take time 
to overcome. What kindly fate led to our meeting in this 
way ? I was to have come yesterday, but an intense headache 

12 



178 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

prevented my travelling! I murmured at the time, and lo, it 
has proved my good friend." 

The rattling streets made conversation difficult. Jean le 
cocher — who, to give him his due, had not once during the 
journey descended from his box for absinthe — awoke the echoes 
with his whip ; a small pandemonium. People of course 
rushed out to see the cavalcade pass. 

"I do not like Dieppe," said Sceur Marie-Blanche. "It 
is unwholesome and monotonous." 

" But the Plage is fine and the sea magnificent," observed 
Mrs. Wood ; " without any monotony." 

" Ah no ! There you are in another world, and those who 
are fortunate enough to put up at any of the hotels on the Plage 
have nothing to complain of. But I, attached to the convent, 
am not so well placed. Those gloomy walls are depressing, 
and the stereotyped life would soon kill me if I could not 
get away from it. I always depart with joy ; but on this occa- 
sion, if I leave you and Marguerite de Marseine behind me, I 
shall become a Niobe ! " 

Mrs. Wood laughed. " Do not think of that last day," 
she observed. " Rather dwell upon the days we shall spend 
together. We must both write to Madame de Marseine, and 
try to hasten her coming. Yet no ; for we must think of poor 
Madame de St. Ange ! " 

** Poor Adelaide ! " sighed Sceur Marie-Blanche. " I have 
not been happy out of the world — she has not been happy 
within it. I suppose happiness does not exist. The fate I 
missed my imagination has always clothed in couleur de rose; 
I have pictured my life one long summer's day, a calm flowing 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 179 

Stream, all sparkling sunshine and clear reflections : but I dare- 
say I should have had many rapids and shallows, many a thorn- 
wound." 

" When the end comes, depend upon it you will see that all 
has been for the best," said Mrs. Wood earnestly. 

" I am quite certain of it," returned Soeur Marie-Blanche. 
" Yet it is hard to think so sometimes. The human heart is 
deceitful ; what we have missed, what might have been, we see 
for ever in rainbow colours, whilst the skies of our actual life 
are always gray. But there is a happy fortnight before me," 
she cried more joyously. "Events are not always so kindly 
disposed. I will make the most of it." 

And so the friends — already friends — parted; to meet 
again on many succeeding days. And when Madame de 
Marseine arrived, with all her train, Soeur Marie - Blanche 
seemed to have obtained a special dispensation or indulgence, 
for she spent almost all her hours with them. Dieppe was at 
that time the most fashionable of French watering-places, where 
the beau-monde from Paris and elsewhere met for many weeks 
of a delightful and unceremonious life. Picnics, walks upon 
the heights, parties of pleasure to the Chateau d'Arques, 
ambassadors' balls, hours spent amidst friendly groups watch- 
ing from the raised terrace of the Casino the deep blue, ever- 
changing sea — all contributed to the gilding of the hours as 
Time took his flight. In few places is the sea more beautiful 
than at Dieppe, more blue and expansive. Every hour of the 
day possessed its own phases and changes ; the sun passing 
grandly and gorgeously on its way touched the sparkling waters 
into life; the sunsets, night after night, were celestial visions ; and 



i8o MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

many a vessel steering westward seemed to be making straight 
for the land from which there is no return. To Mrs, Henry 
Wood it was a time of great happiness : renewing her intimacy 
with old friends ; reviving old associations ; the air full of the 
sound of the French tongue; the streets all life and move- 
ment, evidences of the happy French temperament which 
persists in seeing a silver lining to every cloud. 

The episode has been specially dwelt on, as affording 
another insight into much of Mrs, Henry Wood's life : the 
scenes she passed through, and day by day grew familiar with, 
until France became as another home to her, and its inhabitants, 
in whom, we would repeat, she ever saw much that was good, 
a greatly-loved people. 




PART II 



CHAPTER XVII 

" But there is more than I can see. 
And what I see I leave unsaid, 
Nor speak it, knowing Death has made 
His daikness beautiful with thee." 




e way ; romance had given place t 



If the Abbeville epi- 
sode be excepted, we 
have hitherto dwelt 
chiefly upon the 
scenes of Mrs. Heniy 
Wood's childhood, 
youth, and early 
married life. 

The narrative is 
again taken up after 
a lapse of many years. 
The scene changes to 
England ; the order 
of the old life had 
altered in every pos- 
realities. The interval 



i84 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

was a period of many trials and troubles, which proved Mrs. 
Wood's true nature and heroic endurance. 

We have now to touch upon her literary career. We feel 
how delicate is the task, and with regard to her success we 
would, as far as possible, record the words and praises of 
others and nothing of our own. 

For the rest, praise at this hour could neither add to nor 
take from her fame. To one whose works, in the words of 
Mr. Bentley, have sold only less, if less, than those of Scott 
and Dickens, mere praise or the contrary can avail little. 

When Mrs. Henry Wood began to write East Lynne^ France 
had ceased to be the home of herself and her husband. They 
had come to England, and were staying temporarily in a fur- 
nished house at Upper Norwood, where the air was supposed 
to be specially suited to Mrs. Wood's sensitive organisation. 

The Norwood of that time was very different from the Nor- 
wood of to-day. Then it was a charming suburb, with nothing 
unsightly about it but the huge Crystal Palace, still in the fresh- 
ness of youth. The place itself, apart from the triangular 
village which had long existed, consisted of a few scattered 
houses. The air was wonderfully pure and fresh. Rural walks 
abounded ; country lanes and hedges ; extensive views from 
the heights over several counties of England. Cattle grazed 
peacefully in the fields, and on roads near at hand one fre- 
quently met with all the sights and sounds of a farmyard. 
All this has changed. 

In spite of the air, Mrs. Wood's health became seriously 
affected. Mysterious illness baffled the skill of the wisest 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 185 

doctors. For eighteen months she suffered so severely that 
at length life seemed threatened. At one time she herself had 
quite given up hope, and perhaps her patience and faith had 
never been more keenly tried. 

The paroxysms were peculiar. The first day severe hot 
and cold shivering fits and inability to rise from her bed ; the 
second day intense agony in the region of the liver ; the third 
day freedom from pain — the invalid able to leave her room, but 
with the complexion of an orange ; the fourth day she would 
be and would look perfectly well — hope revived ; the fifth day 
the series of symptoms would begin again, and steadily run 
their course. 

So it went on for eighteen months without variation. The 
sufferer grew painfully weak and thin ; she never went out 
without wearing a thick veil, and a very short walk exhausted 
her. At length to expect recovery seemed almost hoping 
against hope. Dr. Hetley of Norwood constantly attended 
but failed to cure her ; yet his view of the case from the 
commencement differed from that of other doctors, and proved 
correct. 

During this trying period many remedies were adopted, 
many doctors consulted, without effect. Change of air was 
suggested, and many parts of England were visited : amongst 
other places, Worcester and Malvern — Malvern which in days 
gone by she had so much disliked. But it was thought pos- 
sible that her native air might possess healing virtues beyond 
other places. 

Whilst here she wrote two letters upon the subject of her 
illness to one of her children, a boy visiting in Leicestershire. 



i86 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

The letters have long since been destroyed, but every word 
remains in the memory. They were simple letters, but the 
one came laden with happiness, the other with despair. 

" I have good news for you," the first began. " My illness 
seems to have taken a turn at last ; the usual paroxysm has not 
come ; for three days I have felt perfectly well. How thankful 
1 shall be if this really proves the turning-point, and I recover 
health and strength. I had really begun to lose hope. No 
one knows what the suffering has been. . . . How do you like 
Leicestershire ? " the letter presently continued. " Your grand- 
mother used to visit the Carews many years ago : perhaps was 
given the very guest-chamber you are now occupying ; but to 
her the charm of the place consisted in its society : the tame 
monotony of the surrounding country wearied and depressed 
her. I think I should feel the same." 

This good news was soon to be contradicted. A few days 
passed, and then came a second letter. 

" I think I must never again speak of myself or my illness," 
it said. " The very day after I last wrote to you another attack 
came on, more intense, I think, than usual ; as though it had 
only gathered strength by delay. I need not say that I feel 
depressed. It seems all the harder and more painful for the 
short respite, the hope which had begun to revive in me. Shall 
I ever recover ? I begin to question it. I think you should 
also accustom yourself to look at it from this point of view — the 
possibility of a day coming when you will have to do without 
me. The thought that I may have to leave you is inexpress- 
ibly painful ; but you must remember there is One who 
cannot err ; all must be for the best, however dark and 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 187 

mysterious it may seem. If it is well that I should recover, I 
know that I shall do so. Let us rest upon this thought as long 
as hope remains." 

This second letter was a great blow. There had been 
three days of hope and high spirits, the bright surrounding 
life fully entered into, the society of a large and charming 
household thoroughly appreciated. But again the sunshine 
was withdrawn. And still the illness went on, and the 
attacks continued with the regularity of day and night. Mrs. 
Wood returned to Norwood apparently no better than she had 
left it some months before. 

It would be impossible to forget the evening of her home- 
coming after the first long separation life had known. A flood 
of sunshine seemed to have entered the house; everything 
was changed and beautified. As she sat in her easy-chair, 
talking in her calm sweet voice, her soft dark eyes haunting 
one with their sad expression, she resembled more a beautiful 
shadow than a human being. 

Was it to become a reality? It almost appeared so, for 
she seemed to belong more to heaven than to earth. It 
was difficult to hope. Her absence had been prolonged, 
famous doctors had prescribed, yet she appeared only the 
worse. Amongst others, her friend the celebrated Henry 
Garden of Worcester — whom she was fond of occasionally 
bringing into her Johnny Ludlow stories — had her for some 
time under his care ; but for once the great surgeon was at 
fault. His very anxiety perhaps interfered with his skill. 
He took a wrong view of her case. As we have said. Dr. 
Hetley was the only one whose opinion was correct, and even 



i88 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

his was rather negative than positive: he could tell what it 
was not ; he could not be sure what it was. 

She spoke a little of herself that first night " Everything 
appears useless," she said. " The doctors can do nothing. I 
only seem worse after every fresh advice. It is certain that my 
strength cannot hold out much longer. I am worn to a shadow." 

But a brighter day was at hand. There were still many 
years of life for Mrs. Henry Wood — years of earnest labour, 
for not one of her works had yet appeared. " Man's extremity 
is God's opportunity," and in the present instance the saying 
may truly be quoted. All human aid had been tried in vain. 

One day she came down looking calm and resigned, but 
very sad. She was asked if she felt less well than usual. No ; 
but she had less hope. She had taken up one of her husband's 
medical books — it was Dr. Hooper's Vade Mecum — and lighted 
upon a malady which exactly described her case. In her own 
mind there was no doubt about it. " This disease is incurable 
and ends in death," said the book. All hope seemed over. 

Her husband gently remonstrated with her for referring to 
medical works in her present state, declaring that many in 
perfect health might read such a book at any moment and 
fancy themselves suffering from every complaint. The re- 
mark brought no consolation. She pointed out that the fatal 
description answered to every symptom of her malady, and 
when her doctor called that afternoon she told him what she 
had found, and her conviction. "You must have known 
this," she remarked, " and have kept it from me in mistaken 
kindness." 

Dr. Hetley looked grave, and felt he should have some 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 189 

trouble to restore confidence. " It is a mistake to take up these 
books," he said. " You may do yourself great harm. Fancy 
goes far with us in our illnesses for good or evil. Faith heals as 
much as in days of old. Mr. Wood must keep his books under 
lock and key ; they are only for such men as he and I, who can 
go to the root of these matters. You must promise me never 
to meddle with them again." Then he pointed out how and 
where she was mistaken. The malady alluded to was not hers. 
Of certain symptoms which must accompany it she had none. 
He admitted that her illness perplexed him. " Not," he added, 
" that I think I don't understand it, but because it refuses to 
yield to remedies. I have tried everything I can think of, and 
can do no more. At the same time I see no reason why you 
should not recover." 

So far this was consoling ; but it remained a time of sadness, 
sorrow and anxiety. Month after month hope and despair 
fought with each other. In this manner a year and a half 
passed away. It seemed that the end could not be far off. 
And it was during this time, between the paroxysms of illness, 
life looking sad and dark, that East Lynne was written. The 
author often wondered whether she should live to finish it. 
Yet through all she was resigned and cheerful, dreading the 
worst for the sake of others far more than for her own sake ; 
feeling also, no doubt, that if she died, her gift would remain 
unknown, her song unsung. 

All this was sufficient to overwhelm any spirit less sure of 
itself, less dependent upon a higher Power. Yet her work at 
this time has no touch of morbidness : it is healthy and 
vigorous ; if it has its pathos, it has also its humour. 



I90 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

So she sat with hands folded, reduced to the utmost, wait- 
ing, wondering what was next to be done. Her doctor had 
plainly said he could do no more. She had been brought into 
a narrow way, and there seemed no turning to right or left — 
nothing but the dark road leading to the end. 

Help came unexpectedly in the form of an old woman, who 
declared she would cure if permitted. It seemed absurd to 
suppose that where much medical skill had failed an old dame 
should succeed. Desperate diseases require desperate remedies, 
it has been said, but in this instance the exception proved the 
rule. The remedy suggested was simplicity itself. 

This old dame one day called, asked to see Mrs. Wood, 
and was admitted. She wore a poke bonnet and gray shawl, 
and carried a large umbrella. Dropping a curtsey, she sat 
down, leaning both hands on her Gamp -like weapon. Her 
manner of talking was direct and decided. We will call her 
Davey. 

" Ma'am," said Mrs. Davey, " I have heard of your illness, 
I see and know what's the matter with you, and I can cure 
you if allowed to do so." 

There was confidence in the very tones of the old woman. 
She evidently believed herself and her remedy infallible. It 
may at once be stated that she was influenced by the sole wish 
to do good ; she desired no reward, would accept none. 

As time went on, she proved a very exceptional woman in 
her way; gifted with sense and penetration. A broad fore- 
head, full at the temples, distinguished her; keen gray eyes 
that glittered, and a square, expressive jaw denoting force of 
character : a hard, stern face, but very vigorous. A strength 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 191 

of will that kept her alive to a very advanced age, after Mrs. 
Wood herself had passed away, though many years her 
senior. 

The statement so boldly put forward was not more startling 
than the way in which it was delivered; the singular figure, 
with its earnest face, leaning forward impressively upon her 
umbrella ; the fingers of her gloves long drawn out, and look- 
ing like the claws of a bird ; the strong, powerful features ; 
the bushy eyebrows, beneath which the keen eyes looked out 
upon the world, allowing nothing to escape them — all helped 
to make her appear like an o!d seer or prophetess of the world 
gone by rather than a nineteenth-centiiry woman. 

"Do you know," said Mrs. Wood, "that you are under- 
taking to succeed where many doctors have failed? I have 
had every advice, and neither doctors, medicine, nor change 
of air have had any effect upon me." 

" Then, ma'am, that is something like the case of the woman 
we read of in the Bible who spent all her substance upon 
physicians, yet was none the better. It is often so in these 
days. I have no great respect for the Faculty, as they call 
themselves. Many an old medicine woman with her herbs 
and simples can do more — not that I deal in herbs or simples 
either. The moment a case is a little out of common they 
are all at sea, not curing the ill but often increasing it by 
experiments. They are all very well for cutting off limbs, 
or watching a fever; but they cannot see below the surface 
and in puzzling cases only guess at what is wrong. More 
often than not they make a mistake." 

" And how do you profess to be wiser than they ? " 



192 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

" I don't know, ma'am ; it was born with me. It is 
not education, for I never had any : as much as I can do 
to sign my name and read my Bible. The more I think 
about things, the more I seem to understand them. Perhaps 
I was intended for a man and a doctor, and Nature made a 
mistake in forming me a woman. Nature makes mistakes 
sometimes, just as men make them generally. Many a woman 
would rule and govern well, whilst many of our idle men are 
no better than weak old women. That has been my experience 
in life." 

Poor Mrs. Davey, it was discovered, had not to stray far 
from home for an example. 

" I don't think that is the fault of Nature," returned Mrs. 
Wood, smiling at Mrs. Davey's forcible language, to which 
a strong north - country accent gave additional colouring. 
" Nature never makes mistakes ; it is weak wills and infirm 
purposes that are to blame — bad qualities whether in men or 
women. And now tell me what you propose to do." 

" Ay, ma'am, that is the point. You'll excuse the liberty I 
have taken ; but I seldom have an opportunity of speaking a 
word. People about me in my own class don't understand me, 
and I have to think my thoughts and keep them to myself." 

Then this singular woman proceeded to state her case 
and give her reasons. The advice was so harmless it seemed 
the height of credulity to act upon it ; impossible that it could 
touch an illness which had lasted eighteen months and had 
resisted much skill and thought. Mrs. Wood naturally expressed 
her doubt. 

" Ma'am," returned Mrs. Davey, " do you remember the case 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 193 

of Naaman and his illness ? How he went to the prophet and 
expected that he would be bidden do some great thing, or 
that the prophet would come down and lay hands on him 
with great ceremony ? How he turned away offended, because 
to wash seven times in Jordan was beneath his dignity? It 
was a miracle, you will say ; but for all that it was the simplest 
of remedies for the worst of diseases. And it cured him. So 
now it is the simple remedies that cure when strong drugs 
can do no good. I have explained the nature of your illness, 
and how my remedy will affect it. Will you not give it a trial ? " 

" Certainly," returned Mrs. Wood ; " I should be wrong not 
to do so, since all doctors have failed me." 

The remedy was adopted, and with almost magical effect 
The attack returned on the appointed day, but with half its 
intensity ; and never returned again. From that hour it may 
be said that Mrs. Wood recovered health in greater measure 
than she had ever before possessed it. The home -rejoicing 
can perhaps be imagined : how thanksgiving arose for so great 
a mercy vouchsafed ; how sad eyes grew bright, and laughter 
and merriment no longer seemed out of place. 

Mrs. Davey, it has been said, refused any reward; but it 
was good to hear her triumphant " I told you so ! " when her 
success was placed beyond doubt. She carried her head, if 
possible, a little higher, emphasised her periods with the point 
of her umbrella, and was treated as one to whom honour was 
due. 

" Reward I cannot accept," she said ; " I might be taken 
up for practising without a diploma. And what reward, ma'am, 
could equal the pleasure of seeing you well again? Who 

13 



194 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

would know you for what you were when I first called three 
months ago ? I confess that my heart sank when I thought 
how I might have delayed until it was too late — for it took 
me weeks to screw up my nerve to come to you. Every 
morning on getting up I said, * To-day I will go,' and every 
night still hesitated, until at last I took my courage and my 
umbrella in both hands, and away I started, come what 
might. And what, after all, have I done to merit reward? 
Exercised a little of the gift, or whatever it may be called, 
which Heaven bestowed upon me, and is something quite 
beside me. My spirit is always longing for a field in which 
to exercise its faculty ; I go through life like a clipped bird, 
longing in vain to try my wings. If I had a host of patients 
to attend to, night and day, I should be happy. But I might 
as well ask for the Crown jewels as hope to turn doctor 1 " 

" Did it ever occur to you to become a hospital nurse ? " 
asked Mrs. Wood. 

"Yes, ma'am, but I felt it would be worse than useless. 
I never could be at any one's beck and call. Nature gave 
me some poor reasoning powers, and I think out things for 
myself. The doctors would have wanted their way, I have 
wanted mine, and we should always have been at variance. 
I fear there is something of the Radical in me — a slight setting 
at naught of authority. It is a bad quality, and it is at the 
root of all Radicalism. Radicals don't want reform : put them 
in high places, and what tyrants they become. Dictators, 
every one wanting his neighbour's vineyard. I do not want 
the things of others, and would render honour where it was 
due; but I do want my own way, and I should like to go 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 195 

through life healing bodies, just as a good parson heals souls. 
Ah, ma'am ! if I had lived in the days of the Apostles, I 
should have taken my stand with St Luke, for he was the 
* beloved physician.' " 

This Mrs. Davey was indeed a strange, peculiar, and most 
unusual character. She was a woman whom Nature had placed 
altogether out of her sphere. No doubt, as she expressed it, 
her life was more or less sacrificed to a longing for work and a 
field of labour denied to her by her want of position and edu- 
cation. Her mental capacities, lying fallow, only rendered her 
supremely unhappy. She had married, but as women of strong 
minds often do — measuring others' capacities by their own 
until the awakening — she had chosen a man her inferior in all 
mental qualities; weak, irresolute; neither industrious nor 
amiable ; as she once remarked of him, neither useful nor 
ornamental. As time went on she had to become the bread- 
winner and home-supporter. Of children she fortunately had 
none, and therefore life was not as hard with her as it might 
have been. 

In earlier days she had gone through some great crisis or 
tragedy which had left its mark upon her for good, and from 
which she had come forth a strong, determined, thoughtful 
woman ; going her way in silence, minding her own business, 
thinking nothing of her neighbours' affairs ; biding her time, as 
she one day observed, until she passed out of this existence 
into one where possibly she might find more congenial sur- 
roundings. What the tragedy had been was never known, but 
she once remarked that it was more tragic, more wonderful, 
and more overwhelming than anything imagination had ever 



196 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

conceived. As she spoke, her very face turned pale, her eyes 
glowed, she shuddered dramatically ; but never again would 
she approach the subject even with the faintest confession. 
No earthly power could have induced her to utter a word or 
perform an action against her will. In the days of torture she 
would have gone through all to the bitter end ; neither rack 
nor stake turning her from her purpose. 

It followed that whenever this singular woman came into 
contact with her superiors in position or culture, she opened 
her mind and indulged in her favourite power of argument — 
and a power it certainly was. But with Mrs. Wood the 
occasions had to be few and far between, for Mrs. Davey, in 
her crude but original way, would plunge into philosophy and 
metaphysics and controversies with which her hearer, who never 
argued, had no sympathy, and no nervous power wherewith to 
contend. 




CHAPTER XVIII 



"I leave thy praises unexpressed 

In verse that brings myself relief. 

And by the measure of my grief 

I leave thy greatness to be guessed," 



The scene was about 
to change. The time 
for leaving Norwood 
was approaching. 
East lynne, we have 
sa,id, was written 
through illness and 
suffering ; much of 
it when the frail form 
was too weak to sit 
up, the hand found 
it an effort to hold 
the pen, and life 
seemed sad and hope- 



When Mrs. Davey first appeared the work was approaching 
completion. Three-fourths had l>een published in Colbum's 
New Monthly Magazine. 




198 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

The writer remembers well how the interest in the portions 
published month by month went hand in hand with anxiety 
for the health of the author; and the certain atmosphere of 
intense sadness thrown over East Lynne in those days clings 
to it stilL Every monthly part seemed like the swan song, the 
last effort before the pen was laid down for ever. 

Very few were in the confidence of the author when East 
Lynne was appearing. As in all other things, so in this, Mrs. 
Wood was quiet and retiring. In her own house she scarcely 
ever spoke of her work, for which she had too great a 
reverence and regard to make it a theme of ordinary con- 
versation. 

Amongst the few in this confidence was Mary Howitt ; and 
one especial letter of hers gave Mrs. Wood much pleasure. 
It was the first criticism she had received upon East Lynne^ 
and, coming from one who had herself been for many years 
a popular writer, seemed to foreshadow success. 

*' My dear Mrs. Wood," it began, " I cannot tell you how 
high an opinion I have of East Lyn?ie, as far as I have read it 
in the monthly parts ; but this I will say : that you have only to 
publish the work with your name attached to it, and you will 
at once become famous." 

A short time after this, East Lynne appeared. 

Mary Howitt was one of those friends for whom Mrs. Wood 
had a great regard. At the time of which we are writing Mr. 
and Mrs. Howitt were living at Highgate, where Mrs. Wood 
occasionally visited them. In those days they had taken up 
the new movement of spiritual manifestations, throwing their 
whole earnestness into it, but their endeavour to make a con- 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 199 

vert of Mrs. Wood did not succeed. Her conception of things 
unseen was too deep and reverential to allow of their being 
lightly handled ; and she could not reconcile these manifesta- 
tions with her ideas of spirituality. In the unseen world she 
had absolute faith, and thought it probable that spirits were 
about us, guarding and influencing our lives — if we permitted 
them to do so. She believed in occasional and direct mani- 
festations from heaven ; thought it possible that dreams and 
visions were occasionally and specially sent ; on rare occasions 
warnings and presentiments — in short, that the link between 
heaven and earth was nearer and closer than is generally 
imagined. 

But though some of her best friends, such as Mrs. Howitt 
and Mrs. Milner-Gibson, took up the question of spiritualism, 
and spent much time in what had become a fashion of the day, 
Mrs. Wood could never be persuaded to have anything to do 
with it Some things, it is true, puzzled her — such as the extra- 
ordinary geometrical drawings which Mr. Howitt frequently 
showed her, declaring that they had been done under spiritual 
influence, he merely holding the pencil. That a perfect circle 
could be drawn in this way by one who drew little himself was 
certainly remarkable, but the truth of the assertion was of 
course not to be questioned. 

Beyond this, Mrs. Wood never discovered anything to make 
her believe in the truth of the so-called manifestations. Once 
at Dieppe her friend Mrs. Milner-Gibson had persuaded her 
to accompany her to the house of a certain Madame de B. 
This lady, like Mrs. Milner-Gibson, was a genuine believer. 
That chairs and tables should float about rooms, that bonbons 



200 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

should scatter like snowflakes, that hair should be pulled, hands 
pressed, and arms pinched, all this they accepted in faith. Mrs. 
Wood could not do so, but she willingly accompanied her 
friend to the stance. The writer was also present. A great 
medium had come down from Paris, and unusual results were 
expected. In a large room the 'guests sat upon chairs placed 
in rows. Most of them were eager and excited. That Mrs. 
Milner-Gibson should have accepted the movement so warmly 
always surprised Mrs. Wood, for she was gifted with extreme 
shrewdness and penetration, a woman of great intellect, and 
one of the most admirable conversationalists of her time, 
to whom it was delightful to listen ; " the second most perfect 
hostess in England," Talleyrand once remarked of her. But 
that she had firm faith was certain. On the present occasion 
the medium was half an hour late in arriving, but arrived quietly 
animated and evidently in admirable "form." He was told 
that Mrs. Henry Wood was present, and his genuineness would 
be narrowly scrutinised. For a moment a shade of anxiety 
and vexation was visible, but it passed. The room was 
darkened, and the audience waited. After a long pause some 
one declared they heard a tambourine in a corner of the ceil- 
ing ; then, after a longer pause, there §eemed to rise a pale 
dim vapour at the end of the room, but it disappeared. After 
that nothing happened but an uneasy silence and waiting. 
" What is the matter ? " asked Madame de B. " Why don't the 
spirits appear and do something ? " 

"They are not responsive to-night," the medium said at last, 
in a strained, nervous voice. "They declare there is some 
one in the room antagonistic to them, and they will not perform 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 201 

before her. The stance must terminate." And terminate it 
did, without manifestations, to the disappointment of many. 
The next night there was another stance, at which Mrs. Wood 
was not present, and great things were done, and every one 
was much impressed. 

In appearance, manner, and conversation, Mrs. Howitt 
always seemed much more fervent and devotional than her 
husband. There was a great charm about her. Mrs. Wood 
frequently remarked that she had never known any one who 
so differed from the impression made upon you by her letters. 
These letters were all life, energy, and action ; you fancied the 
writer one of those who govern the world by a strong per- 
sonality. Instead of this she was the quietest and gentlest of 
women, speaking in subdued tones, never self-asserting : quali- 
ties which always found their way to Mrs. Wood's heart. 

We specially remember one day when Mary Howitt had 
been spending the afternoon with Mrs. Wood, who was then 
staying in Lancaster Terrace, Regent's Park. The conversation 
had turned on spiritualism; not the manifestation of spirits 
through the medium of chairs and tables, but the spiritual 
world itself — how far it surrounded us, and how far even 
dreams and visions might be sent to us through their agency. 

Both Mrs. Howitt and Mrs. Wood had had a few remark- 
able experiences. 

" I will tell you one of mine," said Mrs. Howitt. " I was 
seated one morning in my study writing a book, which I had 
promised to finish by a certain date. Suddenly everything 
around me seemed to fade and disappear, and another scene 
arose. I was no longer at home, but distinctly saw before me 



202 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

a wide tract of country ; it was wild and barren, such as I had 
never known, never visited. I knew that I was in Australia. 
The land was desolate and deserted. In the midst of it was a 
sheet of water — a large pond or small lake. As I gazed I saw 
men approaching; I read anxiety and concern upon their 
faces; I could tell that they were in trouble. Then, with 
appliances they had with them, I saw them drag a body out 
of the water. It was that of a young man, dead, and as they 
turned it towards me the full light of heaven shone upon the 
face, and I saw that it was the face of my son. I watched them 
slowly walking across the plain, carrying their sad burden. 

" Then the vision faded, and I found myself seated at my 
table. How long it had lasted I know not; probably only 
a few moments. I was overwhelmed. * If this be true,' I said 
aloud, * I can never finish this book and fulfil my engagement.' 
I sent for my husband and told him all that had happened. 
We both felt that our son was dead, and that we should hear 
of it before long. We prepared ourselves for bad news. It 
did not tarry. We received all particulars — I do not doubt 
from one of the men who appeared in my vision. My son had 
been drowned ; everything had happened exactly as I had seen 
it ; I could myself have written the letter and described place 
and circumstances. I see it all now distinctly, as I talk to 
you. It was a merciful interposition of Providence to prepare 
me for what was coming." 

" Was it not closely allied to what the Scotch call second- 
sight ? " asked Mrs. Wood. 

" I think not altogether," returned Mary Howitt. " Scotch 
second-sight, if I mistake not — in which I believe Sir Walter 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 203 

Scott himself had strong faith — refers invariably to things about 
to happen ; my vision referred to what was already past ; and 
then, I think that only the Scotch themselves have the gift of 
second-sight." 

"I don't know," returned Mrs. Wood. "If second-sight 
and such things really exist, I am inclined to believe that all 
who are of Celtic origin may be susceptible to these influences. 
The Celtic temperament seems more closely allied to the 
spiritual than the Saxon." 

"Partly through their more vivid imagination — I agree 
with you," returned Mary Howitt. "And you and I," she 
smiled, " both have something of the Celt in us. Nearly all 
great writers have possessed Celtic blood. Not," she added 
modestly, " that I would call myself great, although mine has 
become a household name; but I think my talent consists 
rather in translating the ideas of others than in giving out 
my own — though for many years I have not known what it 
is for my pen not to be busy with my own thoughts. But 
your talent, my dear friend, is all your own. Did I not once 
tell you that you had only to publish East Lynne to become 
famous? It is only such power as yours that can, like 
Lord Byron, awake one morning to find itself famous. And 
your reputation will be lasting. Your books are photographs 
of real life ; your characters are human beings and our personal 
friends — they can never die. You will be read long after many 
of us are forgotten." 

Yet there had been a moment when it seemed possible that 
East Lynne might not fulfil Mrs. Howitfs prophecy. We 
have all heard of many great works rejected in the first instance 



204 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

by the publishers. People are slow to recognise genius. It 
is a new departure, and the unfamiliar seldom pleases. When 
Scott read his first novel to an acquaintance, his remark was, 
" My friend, you have made a great name as a poet, but you 
will make a very indifferent one as a novelist." Scott, how- 
ever, was not to be discouraged; nor did Waverley go the 
round of the publishers ; but if Scott's first critic had been 
his publisher's reader, the story might have returned to him 
to be shut up in his desk for another twenty years. 

In later days we know thatya^^ Eyre met with many rejec- 
tions, until it fell into the hands of one who sat up all 
night to read it. Charlotte Bronte, in her far-away Yorkshire 
vicarage, had begun to give up hope when acceptance came 
as a ray of sunshine into her solitary life. She was no longer 
to be self- depreciating and unknown, turning in despair from 
her own reflection ; the small, dark, old-fashioned being, whom 
to see was not to love. 

East Lynne did not go quite the round of the publishers as 
in the instance oijane Eyre^ but it might have done so had it 
not found favour with the late Mr. Richard Bentley. 

It was first offered to Messrs. Chapman and Hall. As the 
publishers of Bentley s Miscellany and Colburn's New Monthly 
Magazine, Mrs. Wood had been brought into slight but 
pleasant acquaintance with Mr. Frederick Chapman ; and it 
was her rule to render honour where honour was due, expecting 
the same in return. Though Harrison Ainsworth was the 
proprietor of these magazines, Messrs. Chapman and Hall 
issued them ; to these gentlemen, therefore, East Lynne was 
offered. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY \yOOD 205 

It was refused on the report of their Reader. Yet they were 
so convinced of the merits of the work, that Mr. Chapman told 
Mrs. Wood they did what they had never done before, and 
returned the work for the Reader's further consideration. 
Harrison Ainsworth, who thought very highly of the work and 
its chances of future success, had said so to Messrs. Chap- 
man and Hall, advising them to secure it A second time the 
Reader's report was unfavourable, and East Lynne was declined. 

" I think you are making a mistake," Mrs. Wood remarked 
to Mr. Chapman, after their second decision. " I am sure 
the book will succeed." 

" I think so too," he replied. " But we have made it a rule 
never to publish upon an unfavourable verdict, and it is a rule 
we have never broken. We are more or less slaves to red tape 
in business." 

"You should have made East Lynne the exception," 
laughed Mrs. Wood; for she liked Mr. Chapman, and was 
disappointed at their refusal. That they did not do so, he 
afterwards acknowledged was their infinite regret. Later, when 
Mrs. Wood was visiting Mr. Harrison Ainsworth, the subject 
was mentioned. 

" Chapman and Hall have never ceased to repent," he said. 
" I cannot imagine on what plan they take or decline manu- 
scripts. They publish a work that has no chance of success 
simply because the turn of a phrase or an isolated incident 
happens to take the Reader's fancy, and when such a book as 
East Lynne is brought under their notice, they pass it over. I 
was never more amazed than when Frederick Chapman told 
me they had returned it to you." 



206 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

" Yet I had great difficulty in persuading you to let me write 
it," remarked Mrs. Wood, who always found it a little hard to 
forgive Mr. Ainsworth for refusing year after year to accept 
anything but short stories from her — a matter presently referred 
to. "Why were you so unwilling that I should write a 
novel ? " 

Mr. Ainsworth laughed. " Your short stories were so good 
that I could desire nothing better," he replied. "And they 
were so popular that the magazines could not get on without 
them. A long novel could not take their place with the 
readers." 

But there was also another reason, which he did not men- 
lion. He had a conviction that Mrs. Wood's first published 
novel would make her famous, and, her fame once established, 
he felt that he should lose her. He was unwilling to run the 
risk, and only yielded when Mrs. Wood at length refused 
to write any more short stories for his magazines. 

East Lynne was next offered to Messrs. Smith and Elder. 
Perhaps it did not fall into the hands of the Reader who had 
sat up all night with Jane Eyre, Or perhaps it did, and 
found no favour with him. However this may have been, 
Messrs. Smith and Elder briefly and politely declined the 
work. When it was returned it bore every appearance of not 
having been opened, and it had only remained one day with 
the well-known publishers in Cornhill. 

This second rejection was depressing, and Mrs. Wood 
began to wonder whether the sickness of hope deferred, the 
experience of so many, was again to become hers. But the 
trials of past years enabled her to bear this also with fortitude. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 207 

It next came under the consideration of Mr. Bentley, who 
at once accepted it. So far suspense was over. But the great 
trial was to come — whether or not it would find favour with 
the world. That was soon to be proved. "I should not 
publish it," Mr. Bentley said to Mrs. Wood, " but I feel sure 
of its success"; a remark she afterwards repeated to her 
husband. 

"I suppose that may be taken for granted," he laughed. 
" Mr. Bentley probably thinks the same of all the works he 
brings out, though in this instance I do not doubt his 
judgment." 

" You have not sent me a motto for it," said Mr. Bentley, 
" and I like mottoes." 

"I don't think the public care for them," laughed Mrs. 
Wood. " Nine people out of ten would never read it. But I 
will send you one." 

She had no poet at hand but Shakespeare and Longfellow. 
Mr. and Mrs. Wood had never intended to settle at Norwood, 
and many of their worldly possessions were packed and stored 
away. Much of Shakespeare Mrs. Wood knew by heart ; but 
she was also fond of Longfellow, who in his peculiar way is 
very human, and adapts himself readily to quotation. Mrs. 
Wood was in sympathy with his earnest and reverent tone, 
and taking up the volume, from The Courtship of Miles 
Standish soon found what she wanted : 

** Truly the heart is deceitful, and out of its depths of corruption 
Rise, like an exhalation, the misty phantoms of passion : 
Angels of light they seem, but are only delusions of Satan. 

• »..•» 

This is the cross I must bear ; the sin and the swift retribution." 



2o8 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

The text was so applicable to the story that Longfellow 
might have written it for that purpose. They are also some 
of his best and truest lines. " I am delighted with it," wrote 
Mr. Bentley when acknowledging its receipt, "and shall 
advertise it with the book." 

After that nearly all Mrs. Wood's mottoes were taken from 
Longfellow ; every motto wonderfully fitting to its story, almost 
telling the burden of the book ; and much must be said for the 
poet who can furnish thoughts at once so sweet and simple, so 
true and earnest. 

Mrs. Wood loved many of the poets, but by no means all. 
The dreamy and metaphysical, such as Shelley, occupied with 
abstruse questions, unrestful searchings into problems never to 
be decided, eager to solve all mysteries, longing to penetrate 
beyond the veil before the veil was lifted : with such she had 
little sympathy. Shakespeare she ever loved; Longfellow, 
Byron, parts of Tennyson, she never tired of reading. A little 
of Mrs. Browning, but not the more obscure writings of her 
husband; — apropos of whom we may relate the following short 
anecdote, which came under our own experience. 

A friend was staying with him. One morning he came 
down into the breakfast-room before Robert Browning, and 
whilst waiting took up one of his poems. He lighted upon 
a passage that he read and re-read, but found it impossible to 
understand. When Browning entered the room he passed 
the volume to him, asking for interpretation. The poet also 
read and re-read the passage, and then confessed that he must 
give it up. " I have no doubt that I knew what I meant when 
I wrote it,'* he laughed, "but I don't know now." 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 209 

Many of the old song-writers Mrs. Wood delighted in. 
There was scarcely an old and famous ballad that she could 
not repeat ; and if her friends in singing any of them forgot 
the words, she was always able to come to the rescue. She 
was so especially fond of a short poem of Christina Rossetti's, 
Amor Mundi^ and it is so associated with her in our own 
mind, that we venture to quote it. The verses were partly 
explained by an illustration. A youth and maiden meet in 
the valley of life. The one greets the other, and finally they 
turn together into the downhill path : — 

** * Oh, where are you going, with your love-locks flowing, 
On the west wind blowing, along this valley track ? * 
' This downhill path is easy, come with me an' it please ye. 
We shall escape the uphill by never turning back.* 

** So they two went together, in glowing August weather, 
The honey-breathing heather lay to their left and right ; 
And dear she was to dote on, her twin-feet seemed to float on 
The air, like soft twin pigeons too sportive to alight. 

*' * Oh, what is that in heaven, where gray cloud-flakes are seven. 
Where blackest clouds hang riven just at the rainy skirt ? ' 
' Oh, that's a meteor sent us, a message dumb, portentous. 
An undeciphered, solemn signal of help or hurt.' 

*' * Oh, what is that glides quickly where velvet flowers grow thickly. 

Their scent comes rich and sickly ? ' * A scaled and hooded worm.' 
' Oh, what's that in the hollow, so pale, I quake to follow ? ' 
* Oh, that's a thin dead body which waits the eternal term.* 

* * ' Turn again, oh, my sweetest, turn again, false and fleetest. 
This way whereof thou weetest I fear is hell's own track.* 
* Nay, too steep for hill-mounting, nay, too late for cost-counting : 
This downhill path is easy, but there's no turning back.' " 

Another poem which had always attracted her was The 

14 



2IO MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Twin Genii^ by Mrs. Plarr, and it led to a slight but pleasant 
incident. The verses first appeared anonymously many years 
ago in Household Words, long before its editor had laid down 
for ever his magic pen. Years afterwards Mrs. Wood quoted 
them in a Johnny Ludlow paper, not knowing who had written 
them or whether the author were still living. Mrs. Plarr 
immediately wrote to Johnny Ludlow, sapng how much 
pleasure it had given her to find that he so much appreciated 
the lines. Johnny Ludlow was still unknown ; no one 
dreamed that he was Mrs. Henry Wood, and Mrs. Plarr, like 
the rest of the world, never supposed that the author was of 
her own sex.. 

About the same time an amusing letter was received from 
Tom Hood directed to Johnny Ludlow, under cover to 
Messrs. Richard Bentley and Son. It stated with what 
pleasure he had read the papers, and how much he should 
like to make Johnny's acquaintance, and ended by asking 
if he would not spend an evening with him, and over a cigar 
discuss notes and reminiscences of old college days. We can 
imagine the amusement the note caused the author of Johnny 
Ludlow. But it was only one of many similar letters received 
from strangers anxious to know who Johnny Ludlow was, 
or to make his acquaintance. 

We have quoted Amor Mundi, and venture to quote The 
Twin Genii, for we feel that in any record of Mrs. Henry 
Wood it would give her pleasure to include it. Both poems 
strike as it were the same keynote; and it is the key- 
note struck by Mrs. Wood herself in so many of her books 
— the inevitable law of Compensation. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 211 

* * There are twin genii who, strong and mighty, 

Under their guidance mankind retain ; 
And the name of the lovely one is Pleasure, 

And the name of the loathly one is Pain. 
Never divided where one can enter, 

Ever the other comes close behind, 
And he who in Pleasure his thoughts would centre. 

Surely Pain in the search shall find ! 

** Alike they are, though in much they differ — 

Strong resemblance is 'twixt the twain j 
So that sometimes you may question whether 

It can be Pleasure that you feel, or Pain. 
Thus 'tis that whatever of deep emotion 

Stirreth the heart — be it grave or gay — 
Tears are the symbol ; from feeling's ocean 

These are the fountains that rise to-day. 

" Should not this teach us calmly to welcome 

Pleasure when smiling our hearths beside ? 
If she be the substance, how dark the shadow ; 

Close doth it follow the near allied. 
Or if Pain long o'er our threshold hover. 

Let us not question but Pleasure nigh 
Bideth her time her face to discover, 

Rainbow of Hope in a clouded sky ! " 

One more we quote, which was an especial favourite with 

Mrs. Wood, and which she introduces into Mrs, Halliburton! s 

Troubles : — 

* ' How rarely, friend, a good, great man inherits 

Honour and wealth with all his worth and pains ! 
It seems a fable from the land of spirits 
When any man gets that which he merits. 
Or any merits that which he obtains. " 
" For shame, my friend I renounce this idle strain : 
What wouldst thou have the good great man obtain ? — 
Wealth? Title? Dignity? A golden chain ? 



aia MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Or heaps of corpses which his sword hath slun? 

Goodness and greatness are not means but ends. 

Hath he not always treasures, always friends, 
The good, great man? Three treasures — Life, end Light, 

And caim thoughts equable as inlact's breath ; 
And three fast friends, more sure than day or night, 

Himself, his Maker, and the angel, Death." 

Such simple poetry Mrs. Wood loved. In earlier life 
she wrote several historical plays in rhyme and blank verse : 
the theme of one being Catherine de M^dicis and the Eve of 
St Bartholomew ; of another, the times and surroundings of 
Lady Jane Grey; but these she destroyed, though she after- 
wards regretted doing so. With the generality of readers she 
thought poetry unpopular, and that the element introduced 
into novels rendered them unpopular also. For this reason 
her love for poetry, and the great storehouse of poetry 
treasured up in her memory are not set forth in her writings. 




CHAPTER XIX 



" But what ol that ? My darken'd ways 
Shall ring with music all Ihe same ; 
To breathe my loss is more than Taine, 
To ultcr love mote sweet than praise." 

When East Lvnne 

appeared Mrs 

\\ ood s health had 

rallied from the strain 

of her long illness 

All her energy re 

turned and day after 

P day would see her at 

work in her reclining 

^t- chair Indeed in 

*" later years with arti 

ficial support she w as 

able to do ^hat had 

once been impossible 

EuGAii Tower, Woucesteb. — towrite at hertable. 

Every author has his own way of working and his own 

times. Some authors can only write when they feel themselves 




ii4 MEMORIALS OF l^iRS. HENRY WOOD 

in the vein. Days and weeks pass and the spirit does not 
move them. It was so with Charlotte Bronte, Mrs. Gaskell has 
told us. For months all power seemed to leave her; inspiration 
failed; ideas would not flow. Then some morning, without 
knowing why or wherefore, she would awake in all the fervour 
of the "creative mood." But Charlotte Bronte's mind was 
soon exhausted ; it was not a well yielding supplies for ever ; 
and before her death — early though it was — her real work 
seemed to be ended. 

Mrs. S. C. Hall once told us that she could not herself 
write continuously ; after a certain amount of work the brain 
grew empty and would do no more ; and she often had to take 
weeks and months of rest before the pen could be taken up 
again. 

This allusion to Mrs. Hall recalls a slight incident once 
witnessed in her drawing-room which proved that even wise 
women are sometimes weak in small matters. 

It was an afternoon reception at her house in the Boltons, 
and the rooms were fairly crowded. In one part a group had 
gathered, of which Mrs. Hall was the centre. We happened 
to be next to her, and near her was a young clergyman. 
Books — her own writings — were at the moment the topic of 
conversation. Mrs. Hall had made some remark which 
brought up the subject, and for once the feeling was put aside 
that it is better not to discuss the works of an author in his 
presence. 

" Mrs. Hall," said the clergyman, " I remember reading 
your books when I was a child, and being especially delighted 
with your Irish stories." 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 215 

" Then, sir," quickly rebuked Mrs. Hall, " if you read my 
books when you were a child, you ought to know better than 
to say so ! " And she left the divine crushed and unconiT 
fortable. 

It was done on the impulse of the moment, for a kindlier 
heart than Mrs. Hall's never beat, or a nature more careful 
not to wound the sensitiveness of others. The offence was 
also incomprehensible, for the Irish stories must have been 
written twenty years before the young clergyman was born, 
and Mrs. Hall must then have been at least seventy years old 
— and looked even more, for the plaits she wore fastened by a 
cameo in the centre of the forehead added to her age. This 
occurred many years ago; but if the hero is still living he 
must remember the episode which gave him so uncomfortable 
a moment that he soon after made his bow and withdrew. 

Another instance of this sensitiveness to age we found 
in the late Mrs. Kavanagh, the mother of Julia Kavanagh, 
of whom we -have already spoken. She was a woman of great 
powers of mind, of vivid imagination, of unusual force of 
character ; but here was her heel of Achilles. At this time, 
too, she was almost blind, and long past eighty years of age. 

She had been one day with her French maid to the cemetery 
at Nice to visit the magnificent tomb she had erected to her 
daughter : a monument built by degrees. First a quiet grave, 
with a small white cross and stone, pure as the life of the 
gifted being whose remains reposed there. But Mrs. 
Kavanagh's ambition was never satisfied ; she thought nothing 
sufficiently beautiful to mark her daughter's resting-place ; and 
in the end a magnificent white marble tomb was the result. 



2i6 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Within a few yards are the slopes of the Riviera, stretching 
downwards to the shore, wedding all their richness of tone to 
the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Before this monu- 
ment Mrs. Klavanagh was standing with her maid. Julia 
Kavanagh's age — fifty-four — was recorded ; and she had 
been dead some years. The maid, contemplating the in- 
scription, at length remarked : 

" Madame must be very old." 

" Old ! " exclaimed Mrs. Kavanagh. " Why should I be 
old ? What do you know about my age ? " 

" Mademoiselle was fifty-four when she died," pointing to 
the record, "and she has been dead some time; therefore 
Madame must be very old." 

This troubled Mrs. Kavanagh, and the next day she sent a 
mason and had the age removed. Yet one would have sup- 
posed — clever, unusually strong-minded, almost blind, and more 
than eighty — that she must have outlived such feelings by many 
years ; especially as her daughter's death had ever since 
been a ceaseless pain and trouble to her. But the heart is 
capricious ; and perhaps it is natural that we should all try to 
retain some fragments and illusions of youth to the last. Both 
mother and daughter, so beautiful in their lives, have long 
slept in the same tomb, and both have reached that shore 
where time no longer exists and people never grow old. As 
a proof of Mrs. Kavanagh's spirit and strength of mind, we 
may mention that when long past eighty she travelled alone 
from Nice to Paris, and underwent a successful operation for 
cataract, seating herself heroically in the chair, and refusing 
chloroform or any other deadening medium. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 217 

But we were speaking of the way in which people do their 
work ; the ebb and flow of inspiration. 

With Mrs. Wood it was never fluctuating. She never 
knew what it was not to be in the humour for writing. It was 
not only that she could always write, but she ever felt a desire 
to do so — a power urging her, whether she would or no. It 
was always her delight; and she would sometimes remark that 
if we carried our occupations with us into the next world 
nothing would give her greater pleasure than to go on writing 
books for ever. It would have been impossible to live without 
writing. As Julia Kavanagh once remarked, on one of the 
many pleasant evenings we spent with her in Paris : " The 
work once taken up can never be laid aside again. It is as 
necessary as food and sleep. The sacred fire must be kept 
burning." Julia Kavanagh did not live long enough to feel 
her powers failing; and Mrs. Wood's faculties remained 
fresh and spontaneous to the end. She never suffered from 
the feeling of a loss of power, which it has been said was 
the dread of Charles Dickens, and a trouble of his later 
days. 

Mrs. Wood at all times wrote easily and rapidly, scarcely 
ever pausing for word or idea. The great amount of thought 
and deliberation bestowed upon her books was always at the 
commencement. 

She would first compose her plot — a matter of extreme care 
and deliberation, where nothing was passed over or hurried. 
This would take her about three weeks of very close applica- 
tion, and until the whole was accomplished not one word 
of the novel was written. Characters, motives, incident and 



2i8 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

action — everything was duly and deeply weighed, until all 
threads were well in hand. 

Having decided upon the main subject of the work, she next 
divided her matter into the requisite number of chapters, giving 
to each chapter its leading idea. After this every separate 
chapter was again elaborated ; every incident was carefully 
thought out and recorded — the most trifling and the most 
important — from the first chapter to the last, from the opening 
to the closing scenes. 

Thus, before a line of the story was begun, plot and drama 
stood out in a complete form, the various characters endowed 
with life and reality; everything existed not only as a clear 
picture in the author's brain, but in black and white, a solid 
foundation to work upon. Once thought out, plot and in- 
cidents were never changed ; the story, in being written, did 
not develop fresh views and possibilities. It was not per- 
mitted to do so ; the author had her matter well in hand — a 
fixed purpose. The various characters, their work, actions, 
ultimate destinies, had passed into the inevitable. To herself 
her dramas and characters had a very real existence. Morning 
by morning, as she turned to her work, she had only to take 
up her elaborated notes and the day's task stood out clearly 
before her. 

From this it will be seen that her novels, reading so easily 
and naturally that they almost seem to have written them- 
selves, in reality cost her immense thought and labour. Every 
character had been long and thoroughly considered. As in 
the plays of the Com^die Frangaise the least prominent actor 
must play his part as perfectly as the greatest, so was it with 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 219 

Mrs. Wood's dramatis persorue. Upon the most trivial person- 
age a full share of consideration had been bestowed. This 
gave her unusual power, for she took her stories in hand with, 
as it were, the gift of a seer, ruling the destinies of her creations. 

The plot of each novel occupied many pages of close 
writing. We have said that each plot would take about three 
weeks of intense application ; and on these occasions she 
would often relax her rule, and work far into the afternoon. 
At these times she could not bear the slightest interruption, 
for the thread of her argument once broken, she was seldom 
able to take it up again the same day. 

It may be interesting to place before the reader the outline 
of a plot for one of Xh^ Johnny Ludlow stories — the only out- 
line that we possess, and which was accidentally preserved. 
This was the sketch for only a very short tale occupying a 
few pages, and was a very different matter from the elaborated 
plot of a three-volume novel with its numerous incidents and 
characters. The one was a work of weeks, the other of hours. 
But it is sufficient to give an idea of Mrs. Henry Wood's 
manner of working. The story " In Later Years," was 
published in the Argosy for December 1887, after the author 
had passed away. 

"In Later Years." 

"Valentine Chandler has broken down; has also had an 
illness. Is going to Canada. Jane calls at North Villa — sees 
him — he is on a sofa at home alone. They talk. No crying, 
but both subdued. Will try to pull up over there. Johnny 
walks home with Jane. Preparations for Val's departure. 



220 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Mrs. Jacob Chandler has taken small place at Crabb; has 
let North Villa to the Miss Dennetts. Another interview — 
Jane and Val — one of the girls is sitting over the fire with 
Johnny. Val, pretty well now, sits down to piano and sings, 
'Remember me, tho' rolling ocean.' Window is open to the 
sighing, moaning wind of the coming winter. She stands just 
outside to listen. Walks away in distress — with her * aching 
heart,' as the song says. Valentine follows her — she is in the 
arbour already spoken of — where Mrs. Cramp held her inter- 
view with Jacob on the Sunday afternoon many years before. 
They sit down ; neither can speak for pain. It is their last 
interview — the last evening. Last conversation — aching 
hearts. Jane cries; he cries. Ah, how bitter these parting 
tears are ! Some few of us, but I think not many, could 
testify to that. Johnny is ready to go home with Jane. * Til 
go this evening,' says Val, and they go off together, nearly in 
silence. He takes her past the Inlets ; says his last farewell 
at the gate ; takes his last kiss. 

" Juliet arrives on visit to Mrs. Cramp — brings friend with 
her — Cherry Dawson ; a pretty, rattling sort of girl. Strikes 
up a flirtation with Fred Scott. Fred and Juliet (had dis- 
carded Juliet-/^) had had a love affair, or at least flirtation 
together. Cherry cuts Juliet out. Juliet receives letter to say 
sister seriously ill and wants her. Goes, leaving field open to 
Cherry. Back in a week. Cherry declares that she and 
Fred are engaged. Great disturbance. Juliet says she'll 
haunt her for ever. Disappears. Straw hat and white frock 
found on bank of eel-pond at bottom of grounds. Written on 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 221 

paper pinned to frock : * I'll haunt her for ever.' Cherry, not 
bad-hearted, in great distress. Fred Scott, questioned by Mrs. 
Cramp, says he never wanted to have either of them. * Why, 
how could I ? ' he asks reasonably. * IVe no money to keep 
a wife and a house upon. The girls laughed and joked with 
me, and I laughed and joked back again.' Nothing to be 
heard of Juliet— pond dragged — nothing comes up but eels — 
Georgie arrives in distress — Clementina most heartless about 
it — writes word it served Juliet right for her flirting folly, and 
she only hoped she'd haunt Cherry till her hair turned gray 
with fright. Of course Tod and Johnny are in it. 

" Autumn weather. Mrs. Jacob Chandler away, and house 
shut up. Jane goes out one evening at dusk to Mrs. Sym's 
on an errand for her mother — meets Valentine. He has come 
home for her. Tells him of the distress about Juliet. He 
does not believe it ; Juliet would think twice before plunging 
into the prettiest pond ever seen. Juliet found — is lady 
housekeeper to an old gentlemen in Guernsey — most likely 
shall marry him — has lots of money. Jane and Val marry 
and sail for Canada." 

This ability to draw out her plots elaborately and minutely 
gave her, we say, unusual power. She saw clearly the end of 
her story from the beginning. It prevented all contradiction, 
omission, or mistake. Every incident received its appointed 
place. There was no hurrying at the end, no confusion of 
interests. Scarcely a single line or word will be found in any 
one of her books unnecessary to the story. By her characters 
she touches the deeper chords of human nature, whilst she 



222 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

herself is carefully kept in the background. She possessed the 
power of making the common uncommon ; and, again, of 
making improbabilities probable, so gradually and easily 
are her least probable incidents led up to. This gives her 
tirork a value not immediately apparent. 

Yet nothing can be less mechanical than the manner in 
which the novels are written. The stories flow onward as life 
dramas, so real that the author might be merely recording, 
not creating them; one incident leads up to another as 
naturally as if destiny and not design had been at work. She 
never moralised or criticised, therefore never descended from 
the highest level of her faculty. If a philosopher, she was so 
unconsciously, for she never obtruded her personality upon 
the reader. She is a simple, lucid, and picturesque narrator, often 
creating great effects out of the most ordinary and everyday 
material No wonder that her work never ceased to fascinate 
her. Everything outside the realms of her imagination must 
have seemed commonplace and prosaic. In all this lay one 
great secret of her success. 

From a child she had written stories, which were destroyed 
as soon as ended, and no one ever saw a line of them. 
Like all such efforts, no doubt the fire was their best place ; 
and in after years she never encouraged precociousness in 
children. Even to her father, closely allied as they were, her 
early productions were never shown. But they were a great 
resource. Reclining upon her couch day after day and year 
after year. Time must now and then have shown more of 
his leaden feet than of his wings, and they brightened many 
an hour that would otherwise have proved long and weari- 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 223 

some. Many romances and fairy-tales were woven into her 
quiet and suffering life. Pen and paper alone endowed them 
with reality, but all the time the talent was growing. Even her 
governess, whom she ever loved and valued, and who took 
great pride and interest in the few works which appeared 
before her death, was never admitted into the secret of this 
inexhaustible well. 

She one day remarked that she had never but once hesitated 
in composing a plot ; seeing two ways before her, not quite 
certain which was the better. This was when writing East 
Lynne, And yet it must have been long in her mind; for 
years she had wished to begin the novel, and was only pre- 
vented by Mr. Ainsworth's refusal to take anything but short 
stories from her. The point in question was a leading situa- 
tion in the story, and caused her much thought and deliber- 
ation. " In the end,'' she added, " I decided rightly, and soon 
saw that I had adopted the only possible course." It is 
certainly difficult to see how the plot of East Lynne could 
be improved or made more interesting. Here, if anywhere, 
the doctrine of inevitableness seems evident. It is full of 
action, yet every incident fits into its place as the different 
sections of a puzzle ; and any change would appear to disturb 
the narrative. 

Not very long ago a gentleman observed that a friend 
in America was complaining of blunted feelings. "Nothing 
touches me," he said, "as it once did. I neither cry nor 
laugh when others do, or feel moved one way or the other.'' 
" Come with me," said his friend. " They are playing East 
Lynne to-night. We will go and see it acted." And, with the 



224 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

rest of the audience, he was much affected as the play went on. 
" I don't quite see the insensibility you complain of," said the 
friend as they left the theatre together. " You have relieved 
me," was the reply. "I thought my feelings were dead or 
paralysed, but to-night have found them as much alive as ever." 

Until the time of East Lynne, Mrs. Wood was in the habit 
of copying everything ; but East Lynne^ partly on account of 
severe illness, was sent to press as it was written ; and from that 
time she never copied again. And here, in answer to a question 
frequently asked, we may state that Mrs. Wood never dictated. 
Every word of every one of her works was written with her 
own hand. She used to say that she could never have dic- 
tated, for, like Dr. Johnson, the brain and the pen must 
go together. 

Her handwriting was extremely legible, as the specimen 
given will show ; clear and sensitive, like herselt In earlier 
life this was very apparent ; but as years went on it grew more 
upright and decided, answering to the decision of character 
which comes with the advance of life, and we find ourselves in 
positions where judgment and common-sense are a daily exercise, 
and we have often to choose between "two alternatives." 
We wish there were a page of East Lysine to place before the 
reader, but the manuscript was not preserved. It was de- 
stroyed, month by month, by the printers, as the story appeared 
in serial form. Even had it accompanied the proofs, Mrs. 
Wood thought so little of these things that she would probably 
herself have destroyed it — as she destroyed nearly all her other 
manuscripts. The few now existing were accidentally retained. 
The specimens given belong to her earliest and latest periods. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 225 

The longer is taken from The Red Court Farm^ one of the 
earhest and most popular of her works. The MS. consists of 
some nine hundred pages, and from beginning to end there is 
. scarcely a correction or an erasure, marking the wonderful ease 
and fluency with which Mrs. Wood wrote. The accompanying 
page is not specially selected, and is no better than any other 
part of the MS. Those whose duty it was to set up the type 
were always glad when Mrs. Wood's "copy" fell to them. 
Where workmen are paid by the amount of work done and 
not by time a clear handwriting makes a sensible difference to 
the day's earnings. 

Mrs. Wood's memory could recall every line and expres- 
sion she had written; and if by chance the printers altered 
a single word, she never failed to discover it, and restore the 
original. When George Canterbury's Will was passing through 
the press, after the manuscript had gone in she wished to make 
a slight change in it. Time failed, and it was necessary for 
some one to call at the printers'. Mrs. Wood indicated the 
nature of the passage, and, as nearly as she could tell, the 
number of the page on which it would be found, and its 
position. Everything proved as described, and the new 
matter, some twenty lines, was substituted for the old. 
But only a very clear head and memory could have done 
this. 

Memory and clearness of vision and judgment remained to 
the end. Yet in the last two or three years of her life she found 
that as regarded time and ease, she worked very unequally. Her 
pen was no longer quite that of a ready-writer. There were days 
when she wrote as quickly as ever, and others again when she 

15 



226 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

wrote very slowly indeed. It took her much longer to write 
her stories, and cost her much more labour ; she would often 
alter or re-write parts of many pages, a thing unknown in 
earlier days. But her facility for inventing plots, if anything, 
increased. " I could sit down now and compose a hundred 
plots with the greatest ease, if I only had the strength to 
work them out," she remarked a short time before her 
death. It was all, from begiiming to end, from first to last, 
a labour of love. 

" I feel quite vexed with myself," she again remarked one 
morning in the last autumn of her life ; " I write so slowly 
compared with the old days. It takes me four months to get 
through the amount of work I could once do in as many weeks." 

But this was after the labour of many years, in which few 
had worked more earnestly and indefatigably. 




CHAPTER XX 



" 'Tis held that sorrow makes us wise ; 

Yet how much wisdom sleeps with thee 
Which not alone had guided ine. 
But served the seasons Ihat may rise." 




Old Houses, Woucestei! 

ruled and order and system reigned 
the domestic atmosphere was ne' 



It has been said of 
many literary people 
that they are not 
domesticated. It 
was not so with Mrs. 
Henry Wood. No 
one ever looked more 
earnestly to "the 
ways of her house- 
hold. The happi- 
ness of those about 
her was ever her first 
thought and con- 
sideration. Her 
house was carefully 
Nothing ever jarred; 
T disturbed. Her 



228 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

servants were expected to do their duty without undue 
surveillance, and it was done thoroughly and conscientiously. 
They delighted to serve, appreciating the kindness with which 
they were treated, ever made to feel that their welfare 
was a matter of personal thought and consideration. It 
was the rarest thing for any servant to leave her, unless to 
be married, or for some equally good reason. At the time 
of her death several of her domestics had been with her for 
nearly a quarter of a century. 

No home duty was ever neglected or put aside for literary 
labours. Every morning before commencing work there was 
the interview with the housekeeper, when the household 
affairs for the day were discussed and settled. Punctuality 
was strictly observed. In all there was no effort ; no ruling 
excepting by kindness and quiet influence. With her it was 
ever — 

" Think truly and thy thoughts 
Shall the world's famine feed ; 
Speak truly and each word of thine 

Shall be a fruitful seed ; 
Live truly and thy life shall be 
A great and noble deed." 

Mrs. Wood was now living in St. John's Wood Park, South 
Hampstead; a locality chosen because it was more bracing 
than the central parts of London. Mr. and Mrs. Wood had 
for a time lived in Kensington, but in its relaxing air the health 
of one of their children failed. They were advised to go 
northward, and as a test, took for some months the furnished 
house in Lancaster Terrace already alluded to, and which was 
said to possess the prettiest drawing-room in London. Here 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 229 

health improved, and the house in St. John's Wood Park was 
finally chosen and occupied for many years. The situation 
was somewhat inconveniently remote, but health had to be 
considered before all things. 

Here, early-rising was a law of the house. At seven o'clock, 
summer and winter, Mrs. Wood's maid entered her room, undrew 
the curtains, and she rose immediately after. At eight she went 
into her study, where, Sundays excepted, she always break- 
fasted alone, never coming down, save on special occasions, 
until two o'clock, when work was put aside. The remainder 
of the day was devoted to reading and conversation, receiving 
friends, social duties and pleasures, the exercise of that hospi- 
tality her heart delighted in. 

Her dress — to bring her more vividly before the reader — 
was always the same for quite the latter half of her life; so 
that one ever had a distinct and unvarying impression of her. 
She wore at all times plain but rich black silk, specially made 
for her in Lyons, the town so associated with her early re- 
collections; the only difference between the morning and 
evening dress being that the latter would be more trimmed 
with old laces that so well became her. Only in the extreme 
heat of summer would the heavier material be laid aside for 
some thin and flowing substance, but the colour never varied. 
The reader has seen her in the Alpine terraces clothed in 
white, listening to the rapturous nightingales : but those were 
the days of youth and romance, which come but once to us all. 

To simple taste in dress she added another virtue. At any 
moment, " from early morn to dewy eve," she would have been 
found ready to receive the most exalted personage in the land. 



230 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Never was there a break in this rule; and as it is a merit 
not always seen in literary people, it is well to record a 
notable instance. Self-respecting and respecting others, it 
could not have been otherwise. And her dresses were so 
arranged with scarves and laces that the curvature was less 
evident than it might otherwise have been. 

We have said that East Lynne and many other works were 
written in a reclining chair, before the days when artificial 
support, which added so much to the comfort of her later life, 
permitted her to write at a table. Yet in the earlier years of 
weakness and reclining, Mrs. Wood often began to write at 
nine in the morning, and wrote until six in the evening ; work 
never seemed to tire or exhaust her. Only for perhaps half 
an hour at mid-day, for the lightest possible luncheon, would 
the work be put down. This was her invariable custom. 
Throughout life she took, it may be said, only one meal a day ; 
a light breakfast of tea and toast, an almost equally light 
luncheon, a late and substantial dinner. Occasionally with 
luncheon a small cup of coffee ; wine only with the later meal. 
One glass of wine, she would say, took away all power for 
work. For most of her life she took only light red or white 
French wines, also specially sent over from her beloved early 
home. She was at all times rigidly abstemious, never ex- 
ceeding the allowance she permitted herself In later years, 
immediately after dinner, before leaving the table, she would 
take a cup of weak tea. 

We have so often been asked questions about these various 
small details that we do not hesitate to record them. There 
is no doubt a certain interest in hearing, even in trifles, how 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 231 

those who have climbed the ladder of success, and gone 
through a long life of laborious work, have regulated the 
ordering of their ways, and found time and energy to ac- 
complish so much. In these days, indeed, of "illustrated 
interviews" the interest has become somewhat morbid and 
unhealthy. 

For a time the close work we have described was compul- 
sory. About the period that East Lynne appeared, Mrs. Wood 
undertook various engagements without realising the amount 
of work they would entail upon her ; and with her a promise 
was sacred. No printer or publisher was ever kept waiting a 
single hour for any manuscript. But the pressure of this close 
work presently told upon her, and she felt that it could not 
be continued. Those engagements fulfilled, she never again 
accepted anything it would be a strain to perform. In a few 
years she wrote only from half-past eight until half-past twelve, 
and the rule once made was closely kept. 

Yet before that time, day after day and month after month 
after working from nine until six, she would be as mentally 
bright and animated as when the day began, able to take her 
place in the home circle and to be interested in all that was 
going forward. Books and conversation were her chief recrea- 
tion, but her interest and attention were by no means confined 
to these objects. In games, excepting occasionally a hand at 
cards or a game at chess — in which, like her father, she ex- 
celled — she never joined ; but it was one of her great pleasures 
to see others at their pastimes, and nothing gladdened her more 
than to be able to contribute to this end. 

She was, indeed, never happier than when planning for the 



232 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

good of others — whether for their pleasure or profit. None 
ever came to her in vain for s)anpathy. In matters of advice 
her clear judgment saw the best course to be taken ; the wisest 
thing to be done in matters difficult or complicated. It is 
often said that people ask your advice for the pleasure of 
taking their own. With Mrs. Wood it was seldom asked and 
not taken, for she inspired confidence, first by her kindliness, 
secondly by her wisdom. With her children this, perhaps 
naturally, was invariably the case. In their eyes she could 
not err. It was impossible to live day after day, year after 
year, with one so true and steadfast, so sensible and far-seeing, 
yet so simple withal, without realising that in judgment and 
penetration she was a pillar of strength. 

We see her now sitting in her drawing-room in her own 
special seat, observing all around her, her attitude full of 
repose, one hand holding a fan, which, if the weather were 
warm, she was seldom without, the other resting upon the arm 
of her chair, listening to some difficult problem that had 
crossed the path of a friend. Not a word spoken until the tale 
was told, and then quickly came the reply — the right course to 
pursue ; where there had been darkness and complication all 
became clear as daylight. On one special occasion two young 
friends had, from no fault of their own but through the action 
of a third person, brought themselves into temporary disfavour 
at the Foreign Office. As both were rising in the Diplomatic 
Service, the case in point involved serious issues. 

In their vexation and anxiety they bethought them of their 
wise friend, and went to her on the eve of a great interview 
for sympathy and advice. The whole- case was laid before 



I 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD • 233 

her ; the story eagerly poured out. That they were blame- 
less was true ; that it might appear otherwise was equally 
true. What would be the result? Without hesitation their 
friend told them what would be said by the head of the 
Department ; the questions asked, the view taken. " You 
have nothing to fear," she concluded. " Make your minds 
easy. You will be told in future to exercise more discretion 
and more care, and I think I must tell you so too ; and there 
it will end." As they were departing, consoled and comforted, 
she gave them her hand, and said, " Fear nothing ; all will be 
well." 

And all so happened the next day ; almost the very expres- 
sions Mrs. Wood had used the night before they heard again. 
Fortunately, in the head of the Department at that time — now 
many years ago — they found all that innate gentlemanlike 
courtesy and consideration and willingness to listen which do 
not always characterise the heads of Departments; and the 
true version of the case prevailed. The young men went their 
way rejoicing — to rise in due time to honours of which they 
were worthy. But they never forgot hastening to their friend 
and counsellor the moment the important interview was 
happily over, with faces from which the cares of a centur)^ had 
been removed. " You are a prophet ! " they cried, " and must 
have mesmerised Sir John. The very arguments, the very 
words you used, he used." And then Mrs. Wood's quiet 
and musical laugh. "I am not by any means a prophet, 
but I see things pretty clearly, and happen to possess a little 
common -sense. I admit that your position was somewhat 
awkward, but your fears prevented you from judging calmly. 



234 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

whilst youth and inexperience exaggerated the matter. Sir 
John and I are older than you; I knew exactly the view he 
would take of what was after all a simple affair : though I did 
not know," she laughed, " that he would honour me by using 
* my very words and arguments ! ' " 

It was ever so ; above all things Mrs. Wood was quietly, 
eminently wise ; and the line placed upon her tomb — " The 
Lord giveth Wisdom" — refers not only to her work and 
its invariable tendency for good, but to herself; the great 
matters of her life, in which she made no mistakes; the 
frequent occasions on which in the troubled portion of that 
life she had to exercise supreme wisdom ; her everyday home 
life, which she so beautified, and which in itself ever requires 
so much patience and tact; its singular harmony; the few 
errors that occurred, the smoothness with which everything was 
directed. Her voice was never heard in anger or even in 
reproach. Discouragement she held to be the greatest of 
errors ; but everything that weakened the strict prin- 
ciples of life was quietly avoided. Sceptical books were 
never opened. No matter what the reputation of such a 
work, its pages never entered her house. With St. Paul she 
forsook all " vain and foolish babblings, and oppositions of 
science falsely so called." She had her reward in that 
Faith never failed her ; nothing was more real to her, nothing 
more present, than the "things unseen." Argument of 
every description she disliked. In politics she took no 
part, beyond being a strong Conservative. Inequality she 
recognised as a Divine law, but her sympathies were far- 
reaching. All social movements affecting the people or country 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 235 

she followed with keenest interest ; and none living had their 
true welfare more at heart. How earnestly this was the case, 
and how clearly she saw into the future, is evidenced in her 
story of A Lifers Secret 

At the commencement of this chapter we have said that 
Mrs. Wood was an early riser. This recalls to mind what was 
to her a very singular and constant source of pleasure, even of 
delight. 

In sleep she was ever haunted by dreams vivid and lasting, 
and always singularly beautiful and consecutive. The remem- 
brance of them did not fade, as they do with most people. 
Whole histories and dramas would pass before her. She was 
ever wandering in lovely realms, amidst greenest valleys and 
sweetest flowers. More beautiful than anything earthly were 
these nightly visions, peopled by her personal friends. Elysian 
fields, the plains of Paradise, ever seemed the abode of her 
spirit when, night after night, sleep spread his gentle mantle 
over her. These dreams never forsook her ; in the very last 
days she would say how beautiful they had been. We cannot 
wonder at this in one whose imagination was continually 
exercised, and to whom an unkindly thought or uncharitable 
word was unknown. One of her remarkable traits was an utter 
self-unconsciousness. It never occurred to her to be a shining 
light to others, only to be true to herself. Nothing was farther 
from her mind, nor would she have dreamed of it in her humility. 
The letters left to her children, to be opened after her death, 
which were difficult to read from their touching beauty and 
fervent tone, spoke more freely and openly, were more exhorting 



x^t 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRV WOOD 



to the "better life," than perhaps anything she had ever said 
when present with them. She ever looked upwards, but silently. 
Only thus can so consistent a life be lived. Otherwise 
the disturbing elements of earth must inevitably come in, with 
their discord and failure. Human nature Is at best erring, 
and Mrs. Henry Wood would have been the very first to 
consider herself imperfect : for the nearer we grow to holiness 
the more we see our own deficiencies ; the greater the know- 
ledge, the more one realises how little is known in comparison 
with what has yet to be known. Human nature, we say, is at 
best imperfect ; but, as fat as it was possible, hers was a 
perfect life. For the rest, her works bear witness. Man can- 
not paint beauties he does not see, but only gives out of that 
which is within him. 




CHAPTER XXI 

■'Thy voice is on the rolling air ; 

I hear thee where the waters ru 
Thou stanilest in (he rising sun 
A nhsenghua a 



As soon as the proof- 
heets of East Lynne 
had been corrected, 
^^^^■^ Mr. and Mrs. Wood 
went abroad, their 
first destination being 
D eppe, a place they 
bo h so much liked, 
and which at this 
me was the most 
fashionable watering- 
place in France. 

Their object in 

leaving England was 

QUEEN E H « w B. pa tly to obtain rest 

and change. They had not been abroad for nearly three years, 

and this seemed to them almost like exile. During Mrs. 




238 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Wood's lengthened illness it had been impossible to leave 
home. Moreover, East Lynne was being written, and, as in 
her worst paroxysms she could not write, it had taken her from 
first to last quite two years to complete the work. 

Another great inducement to leaving England was to escape 
the remarks and reviews in connection with the. book. As a 
first work, on which so much depended, Mrs. Wood was 
naturally nervous as to its reception ; and to change scene 
and country was the best way of passing over the period 
of uncertainty. 

They also longed once more to breathe the air and see the 
friends of other days. Correspondence had been kept up, 
and to many a question "When are you coming to us again?" 
the answer had to be long doubtful. Though France had 
ceased to be home, they only loved it the more — as we all 
love the years and scenes that are past. Previous visits had 
been red-letter days in their lives, looked forward to, intensely 
enjoyed. The impulsive, enthusiastic French temperament 
was exhilarating and refreshing ; after the heavy atmosphere 
and colder character of the English, the sunny French skies 
seemed to bring back youth and happiness — les beaux jours 
lie la vie — with which the gray skies and east winds of our 
island would not bear comparison. The moment they touched 
French shores the old life was resumed, and high and low 
conspired to give them welcome. Amidst old scenes and 
old friends, they would make a sort of royal progress. 

They had left England partly to avoid the reviews, but fate 
pursued them. No sooner had they settled down in their 
hotel than Mrs. Wood took up by chance the first paper that 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 239 

came to hand. It happened to be the Daily News^ and the 
very first thing that arrested her attention was a review of 
East Lynne^ almost the first to appear. 

"This is a work of remarkable power,'* it began. "It is 
concerned with the passions; and exhibits that delicacy of 
touch and knowledge of the emotional part of our mental 
structure which would reveal the sex of the author even with- 
out the help of the title-page. The great merit of the work 
consists in an artistic juxtaposition of characters strongly 
contrasted with one another." 

Then followed an analysis of the plot, concluding with : — 

"The story displays a force of description and dramatic 
completeness we have seldom seen surpassed. The interest of 
the narrative intensifies itself to the deepest pathos, and shakes 
the feelings. The closing scene, where the dying penitent, 
under the impulse of strong human affection, reveals herself 
to her lost husband and is at length forgiven, is in the highest 
degree tragic, and the whole management of the story exhibits 
unquestionable genius and originality.'' 

One can imagine the pleasure with which the author read 
these first words of recognition. Their influence must have 
sweetened all the days of her stay abroad. The beauties of 
earth, the sparkling sea — ever the greatest delight to her — 
the blue skies of la belle Normandie^ the sunshine, fields, and 
flowers, must have gained a charm they never possessed before 
as she began to realise a day when she would be known and 
appreciated. 

It had been a dream long delayed. For, as we have seen, 
Mrs. Henry Wood commenced her literary career at a time 



240 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

when many writers have begun to think of giving up work. 
Scott was forty -five when his first book was written, and 
Mrs. Wood was more than forty- five when East Lynne 
appeared. 

Those days in Dieppe must have been gilded with a secret 
rapture. The world must have once more seemed very fair to 
the patient, much-tried spirit. If the reward had been long in 
coming, it promised to be great. For she knew her own talent 
and had confidence in herself — what else had given her courage 
to go on writing for ten years without remuneration or any 
other return? — and ever felt that success would one day be 
hers. Both she and her husband were especially fond of the 
Chateau d'Arques, with its ruined and romantic walls and lovely 
views over the undulating country ; and more bright and sunny 
and beautiful than ever they must have looked to her whose 
days had seen much care and sorrow, but who was now about 
to see fulfilled one of the dearest wishes of her long-tried 
heart. That first review in the Daily News so accidentally 
found was a good omen. 

Other reviews quickly followed ; none seen during that 
visit to Normandy, but read long afterwards. 

" East Lynne is so interesting," said the Saturday Review^ 
" that the interest begins with the beginning of the first volume 
and ends with the end of the third. The faults on which 
criticism fastens most naturally are all, or almost all, avoided. 
It is not spun out. It is not affected, or vulgar, or silly. It 
is full of a variety of characters, all touched off with point, 
finish, and felicity. It bears unmistakable signs of being written 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 241 

by a woman, but it has many more of the excellencies than of 
the weaknesses of woman's writing." 

In speaking of the legal portion otEast Lynne, the Saturday 
Review remarked : — 

"What is more wonderful is that the legal proceedings 
taken when the murder is finally discovered are all, or almost 
all, right. There is a trial, with its preliminary proceedings, 
and a real summing up, and a lively cross-examination. Mrs. 
Wood has an accuracy and method of legal knowledge about 
her which would do credit to many famous male novelists." 

As already stated, Mrs. Henry Wood's legal knowledge 
was really extensive and accurate. The science and mystery 
of the Law had always possessed great charm and attraction 
for her. She followed out the points of any intricate case 
that might be going on with clearness and insight ; in trials 
of mystery and complication quickly forming her opinion, 
which seldom proved wrong. 

The Saturday Review continued : — 

" The murder is not the main incident of the story. The 
chief place is reserved for the sorrows of an erring wife. The 
method of dealing with this theme is entirely Mrs. Wood's 
own, and shows very remarkable and unusual skill. . . . 
Evidently such a plot affords much scope for fine drawing of 
character and for powerful and effective scenes. In every one 
of the three parts of the story Mrs. Wood has been successful. 
She places before us a distinct picture of Lady Isabel as a 
young, ignorant, kind-hearted, charming girl, with a gentle 
spirit, although with ill-disciplined feelings and an utter want 
of worldly wisdom. In the second part Lady Isabel is not 

16 



242 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

made either too bad or too good. We cannot bring ourselves 
to condemn her very harshly, and yet the authoress never for 
a moment allows us to doubt of her abhorrence of such a 
crime. But the gem of this part is the character of Barbara Hare, 
who presents exactly the qualities which Lady Isabel wanted ; 
who has strong sense and a right judgment, and an adoring love 
for her husband very different from the gentle flickering liking 
which Lady Isabel bestowed on the hero. The third part, how- 
ever, must have been the most difficult to write, for it is all neces- 
sarily pathetic, and to sustain pathetic writing is a great tax on 
the powers of a story-teller. Considering the very great difficulty 
of the task, the success is undeniable. Few persons could read 
with dry eyes the scenes that pass between the despairing mother 
and the little dying boy to whom she may not reveal her love. 
And an achievement quite as great is the contrast that is pre- 
served between the characters of the two wives brought into daily 
contact under such singular circumstances. Mrs. Henry Wood 
has quite avoided the fault of making Barbara too good. 
Although at the close of the story the whole of the Attorney's 
affections are most properly concentrated on his living wife, the 
reader is not sorry to be permitted to have a slight preference 
for the dead one." 

" East Lynne is so full of incident, so exciting in every page, 
and so admirably written, that one hardly knows how to go 
to bed without reading to the very last page," said the Observer, 
. . . The trial scene is well depicted. There are no in- 
consistencies of time and place to shock the intelligent reader, 
such as most novels are full of; and you rise from its perusal 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 243 

with satisfaction, feeling that the same events might reasonably 
have been expected to arise under similar circumstances." 

^^ East Lynne is touching, well-intentioned, and written in 
the highest tone of morality and earnestness," said the Morning 
Post, "It is a strong appeal to women by a woman, who 
would urge upon her fellows the invincible truth that only the 
ways of wisdom are those of pleasantness, and only her paths 
are those of peace. . . . Mrs. Henry Wood has selected a 
difficult subject for a novelist whose aim is higher than that of 
merely providing amusement and producing excitement. To 
create compassion for the sinner, and to avoid sympathy with 
the sin ; to strip the abandonment of rectitude and the derelic- 
tion from principle of all their romance ; to invest them with 
their harshest reality, and to enforce the lesson of the hope- 
lessly inevitable punishment which is in, and by, and through 
the breach of the most sacred law of God and the most binding 
obligations of society — are responsible and onerous tasks which 
the writer of East Lynne has executed well and faithfully." 

"Miss Cornelia Carlyle," said the Press^ "is one of the 
most laughable elderly ladies in the whole realm of fiction." 

" Nothing strikes the reader of East Lynne more than the 
extraordinary manner in which the mystery of each part of the 
plot is preserved," said the late Mr. Hamilton Hume, the 
nephew of Hume the historian, in the Conservative — a paper 
that, in spite of admirable editing, was destined to a brief 
existence. "As the reader feels that he is moving in the 
different parts of the drama, and unconsciously feels himself 
deeply interested in its several characters, he almost trembles 
as each dangerous turning-point of the story is passed. East 



244 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

LynnCy we may truly say, is no ordinary novel. A high tone 
of morality, a remarkable discrimination of human character, 
and a keen perception of the manners and customs of the age, 
are marks by which it is especially distinguished, and form 
some clue to solve the mystery of its warm and greedy recep- 
tion at the hands of the reading public. . . . Mrs. Henry 
Wood has served the interests of morality in holding up to 
society a mirror in which it may see itself exactly reflected. 
She probes deep, and does not, through any false prudery, 
gloss over its evils and only depict its brightest colours. The 
healthy sentiment and pure morality of Mrs. Henry Wood's 
work renders it particularly valuable at the present time. Now, 
when it is fashionable to live fast and loose ; now, when those 
who take the lead in the most select circles do not frown down, 
but rather encourage, those little excesses which a former 
generation might gravely term sins ; now, when the sanctities 
of domestic life are threatened, and associations hallowed by 
time are endangered, it is a matter of no small importance 
that the follies, the inanities, the vices of society should be so 
ably portrayed and so thrillingly denounced as we see them in 
East Lynne.^^ 

These are short extracts from a few of the many reviews 
that appeared at the time, almost written in the same spirit. 
It seems well to quote them, for they helped to establish the 
popularity of a work that for more than a quarter of a century 
has steadily increased. The thoughts and notices of that 
past generation have long been forgotten, but their influence 
remains. 

We will quote one more extract — from the Times, It was 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 245 

one of the last, and its effect was powerful and immediate. 
No sooner had it appeared than the libraries were besieged and 
Messrs. Spottiswoode, the Queen's Printers, had to work night 
and day upon new editions. It has been remarked that 
the two great reviews in the Twies, in the latter half of the 
nineteenth century, have been those of Adam Bede and East 

Lynne, In the present day the condition of things has 

ft 

changed ; the literary market bears no resemblance to that of 
five-and-twenty or thirty years ago — and Adam Bede appeared 
even before that period. A review in the Times in those 
days was rare, and it directed the whole English-speaking 
world to the work fortunate enough to gain its notice. 

"In East Lynne^^^ remarked the Times^ "we admit the 
authoress to have achieved a considerable success, which has 
brought her into the very foremost rank of her class. The 
authoress," it went on to say, in the course of its very long 
review, " is really what the novelist now prefers to call himself 
— a moralist ; and there is moral purpose in her portraits, as 
well as vivacity. There is great breadth and clearness in her 
delineations of character, and her range is extensive, including 
many types. There is one point on which we may speak with 
special emphasis, and that is her capacity to portray men — an 
accomplishment so rare on the part of lady-novelists that we 
do not at this moment recall any one who has exhibited it in 
equal degree. The two characters of Mr. Carlyle and' the 
second Lord Mount Severn are the principal examples of this 
rare capacity. Mount Severn is indicated with very few touches, 
and yet we have a portrait worthy the best of his class, like 
the faces which look upon us from the canvas of Vandyke. 



246 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Carlyle's is a more elaborated performance, and its harmony is 
preserved, in spite of its elaboration and of the many trying 
tests to which it is put in the progress of the story. His 
character is consistent with the serious preoccupations which 
render him so unobservant of the love of Barbara, on the one 
hand, and, on the other hand, of the jealousy and suffering of 
his wife. He errs, but it is the error of a manly nature assailed 
by difficulties which a more frivolous person would have 
anticipated. But in dealing with his difficulties, when they do 
come, his conduct is admirable. It is rarely that we find a 
hero so consistently heroic, so sensible and just, and yet so 
lovable. There is a strength in his character, as presented to 
the reader, which makes him forget the balance of qualities 
required for its conception on the part of the author. Let us 
add that it is not only a masterly portrait, but a conception of 
which even a moralist may be proud : a brave, noble, and truth- 
ful gentleman, without the pretence of being a paragon for the 
humiliation of his species. 

"On the other hand, if we take the circle of characters 
in which authoresses generally most excel, we shall find the 
authoress here is equally skilful : that is to say, in analysing 
the motives and emotions of her own sex. She presents us 
to a little group of interesting women, each well-defined and 
judiciously contrasted in their relations to the story — its course 
and conclusion. Miss Corny is remarkably good, and so is 
Barbara Hare. So also are Afy Hallijohn and her sister Joyce. 
Isabel is less marked ; but then she is the instrument on which 
the pathos of the story is strung : she is tossed hither and 
thither, and is but a frail reed for such a weight of woe and 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 247 

misadventure. The reader cannot fail to take an interest in 
her fate, nor to be satisfied with the demeanour of her husband 
on her death-bed. The feelings of the latter are just indicated 
to the point to which analysis may fairly go, and then the 
authoress retires with a wise and decorous reticence. Balzac 
would have gone further, and would have handled and squeezed 
each throbbing heart-string, as his manner was in making his 
morbid preparations. But our authoress has better tact and 
a chaster purpose ; nor does she affect to fathom the very 
gulf of human frailty. In short, she evinces the tact of a 
gentlewoman, even in the passages where less equable and 
chastened temperaments have a natural tendency to literary 
hysterics. The death-bed of Lady IsabeFs child is an example 
of this self-command ; where the child is represented as ask- 
ing a child's questions under circumstances where others would 
have made him a precocious angel, and where the announce- 
ment is also made to the mother, in her agony, that her secret 
is known to the faithful Joyce." 

The Times then proceeded to give a long extract from the 
work, and concluded with a short sentence of high praise. 

East Lynne at once became a great success. No one 
accepted it so quietly as the author; none could have 
worn her laurels more modestly. To say that she was not 
profoundly gratified would be to make her more than human, 
and this, perhaps, was one reason for her calmness. She had 
also been perfected through suffering, and the things of earth 
had lost much of their hold upon her. Again, she looked upon 
her talent as a responsibility, for which she would one day 
have to give an account : and it must be admitted that never 



248 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

was gift more earnestly devoted to high aims. If Mrs. Henry 
Wood's desire was to interest and amuse — as it should be the 
end and aim of every novelist — she was no less anxious to 
hold up to her readers a true ideal of goodness and morality ; 
the better side of human nature ; the inevitable Divine law that 
as a man sows so he must reap : the certainty of retribution. 

She was deeply affected by her success, but possessing 
the sensitiveness of genius, she decided never to read reviews. 
Whether favourable or unfavourable, their effect was unsatis- 
factory; and, after the criticisms upon East Lynne^ they 
seldom came under her notice. One of the exceptions was 
in the first series oi Johnny Ludlow, The book appeared 
anonymously, and the secret was well kept. No one knew or 
even guessed at the authorship. The whole press was full of 
praise for this unknown writer; gifts denied to Mrs. Henry 
Wood were found in Johnyiy Ludlow ; and points for which 
Mrs. Wood had been blamed — such as the occasional intro- 
duction of an element of superstition into her %\.ox\^%— Johnny 
Ludlow was especially commended for. Time after time, as 
each review appeared, she would laugh and enjoy this reading 
about herself from, as it were, an outside point of view, often 
wondering that the secret was never suspected. 

Time has proved that East Lynne was not to enjoy a 
mere passing success. The work is even more popular to-day 
than when it appeared. It has been translated into every 
known tongue, including Parsee and Hindustanee. Indian 
readers will gather a large circle of Hindoos around them, and 
read the book to them in their own tongue; seated upon 
the ground, the listeners rock themselves to and fro and 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 249 

laugh and weep by turns. Some years ago one of the chief 
librarians in Madrid informed Mrs. Henry Wood, through 
Messrs. Richard Bentley and Son, that the most popular 
book on his shelves, original or translated, was East Lynne, 
Not very long ago it was translated into Welsh and brought 
out in a Welsh newspaper. It has been dramatised and 
played so often that, had the author received a small 
royalty from every representation, it was long since esti- 
mated that it would have returned to her no less a sum 
than a quarter of a million sterling ; but she never received 
anything. Sometimes it has appeared on the same night at 
three different London theatres, and at many in the provinces, 
where it is always being played. In America for years it has 
been one of the most popular of their dramas, as East Lynne 
has been one of the most popular of their books ; but from 
this also the author reaped no advantage. In the English 
colonies the sale of the various works increases steadily year 
by year. In France the story has been dramatised, and is 
frequently played in Paris and the provinces. 

" I think East Lynne the most interesting book I ever read," 
said the late Lord Lyttelton to a mutual friend ; " and I con- 
sider the chapter headed * Alone for evermore * one of the finest 
and most pathetic chapters in the whole realm of English 
fiction." This from one who was admitted to be among the 
cleverest men in England, who had taken high honours at Cam- 
bridge and was bracketed with Dean Vaughan, was great praise. 

" I am amazed at the power and interest of East Lynne^'^ 
wrote Harriet Martineau to another friend ; " I do not care 
how many murders or other crimes form the foundation of 



250 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 



plots, if they are to give us such stories as this. I wish I 
possessed a hundredth part of the author's imagination." 
She wrote very much to the same effect of Vemer's Pride, a 
work which found great favour with her. 

Mrs. Wood possessed also the gift of excelling equally 
in long or short stories, as Harrison Ainsworth was unwilling 
to admit : two powers not often combined. Our greater 
novelists have seldom written more than a feiv short stories ; 
but Mrs. Wood, in addition to nearly forty long novels, must 
have written not less than from three to four hundred short 
stories, every one of them with a distinct and carefuUy-worked- 
out plot. Yet all was done by one without any physical power, 
who commenced her work at an age when many writers begin 
to think of laying down their pen, and whose life, from the 
day she began to work in earnest, was passed very much in the 
retirement of her study. 




CHAPTER XXII 



" Far off thon art, but ever nigh ; 

I have thee still, and I rejoice ; 
I prosper, circled with thy voice ; 
I shall not lose thee though I die." 

Mary Howitt said 
of Mrs Henry Wood 
that like Lord Byron 
she awoke one morn 
ing and found her 
self famous Bui 
although £ast Zynne 
had been out some 
time and was already 
successful It was the 
somewhat late review 
m the Times which 
really brought it 
under universal 

Old H es W . e b« not,ce. 

The day was a memorable one for the author. Mr. Henry 
Wood, devoted politician that he was, could scarcely have 




252 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

breakfasted without the help of his beloved Times^ and had 
taken up the paper. Parliament had not assembled, but 
was about to do so, and the bugle -call was already sounding 
to battle. The morning was clear and frosty, and the Norwood 
skies were blue and bright, though not with the blueness of 
those far-off southern skies which had once been Mrs. Wood's 
home. 

Mr. Wood opened the Times^ and for a moment politics 
and the money-market were forgotten, as, on the outer 
column of the page, in the most conspicuous portion of the 
paper, the words East Lynne in large type caught his eye, 
followed by a lengthened and appreciative notice. "The 
Times gives East Lynne a long review this morning," he 
remarked to his wife. 

The flush of emotion passed over Mrs. Wood's face, but 
she made no other sign. She had wondered whether the 
Times would review it — hoped it would do so, knowing how 
much depended upon it, what it would mean for her. Yet 
when it came, she received it, as she did all things, very 
calmly and quietly. Her anxiety to see the notice must have 
been as great as the interest at stake ; but she remained seated 
and asked no question until her husband, having read to the 
end, rose and handed her the paper. 

"Forgive me," he then apologised; "I felt compelled to 
finish it, and fear I forgot that your interest must be even 
greater than my own." She quietly took the paper from his 
hand, and read to the end without remark. 

In those days the Times reviewed only on the rarest 
occasions, and almost always favourably. Where one person 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 253 

wrote when East Lynne was published, hundreds write now. 
As we have said, writers were then more confined to the few 
who felt within them the " sacred fire " of inspiration. It was 
supposed to be an inborn faculty, like the genius of the 
poet or the musician, and without that sacred call not to 
be attempted. It is now taken up as a profession, easily 
essayed, easily laid down. So there are many failures; and 
even those who persevere generally discover that the " seven 
years' apprenticeship" is no delusion, and nothing lasting is 
achieved without hard work. 

With Mrs. Henry Wood success had been patiently waited 
and worked for not for seven years, but for ten years. 
For nearly ten years, when living abroad, she had written for 
Harrison Ainsworth, contributing short stories month by 
month to Bentlefs Miscellany and Colburn's New Monthly 
Magazine^ then the property of that popular author. The 
stories appeared anonymously, but attracted much attention, 
and in conjunction with the admirable essays and papers of 
William Francis Ainsworth, the novelist's cousin, kept the 
magazines from falling into oblivion. It is to be regretted that 
the essays of William Francis Ainsworth were not republished 
in a complete form, for they deserved far more than a mere 
passing reputation. 

For many of those ten years Mrs. Wood wrote without 
remuneration, out of love for her work. Popular as the 
stories were, Mr. Ainsworth made no pecuniary return. At 
length she declared her unwillingness to continue these 
contributions month after month and year after year without 
acknowledgment, and the payment of a small yearly sum was 



254 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

arranged ; so small that the old agreement could scarcely be 
said to have altered. 

William Francis Ainsworth was in great part editor of both 
magazines, and to him all Mrs. Wood's MSS. were forwarded, 
and most of the correspondence was carried on between them 
— letters that were ever very pleasant and cordial. Francis 
Ainsworth was a traveller, a gentleman, a man of wide sym- 
pathies; of a mental tone altogether different from his 
cousin, Harrison Ainsworth. His acquaintance with Mrs. 
Wood was almost limited to correspondence, for she was living 
abroad and he had ceased to travel. But on Mrs. Wood's 
rare visits to England she never failed to spend a day with Mr. 
and Mrs. Francis Ainsworth at Hammersmith ; visits which 
always left behind them agreeable recollections. On these 
occasions Harrison Ainsworth, if in London — he was then 
living at Kemp Town — was generally also a guest. 

Amongst the correspondence of Francis Ainsworth, in one 
of his old letters, the following passage occurs. It is dated 
in the fifties, nevertheless Mrs. Wood had already written 
for some years for both magazines. He had evidently just 
read her last contribution in MS., and the passage begins the 
letter : 

"My dear Mrs. Wood — Whence comes this deep well of 
the imagination, that, the more you draw from it, the fresher 
and more sparkling becomes the pure water ? " 

This might be very true, but constantly to draw from this 
"deep well" was a strain even upon the most fertile imagination, 
and Mrs. Wood wrote more than once to Harrison Ainsworth 
to tell him so. Many, nay most, of these short stories contained 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 255 

the germ of a long novel. But Harrison Ainsworth was relent- 
less, and would never consent to the longer novel being written. 
At length the day came when Mrs. Wood grew firm and said 
she would write no more short stories. She had her way, 
and at once began East Lynne, 

It is not easy to realise the tax upon mind and imagina- 
tion of writing year after year twenty-four short stories, each 
complete in itself, and of doing this for nearly ten years before 
East Lynne was written. Then all the work that followed 
East Lynne : nearly forty novels ; the Johnny Ludlow stories, 
which were continued for twenty years; the acknowledged 
work; the immense amount of anonymous literary work 
written in addition for the Argosy^ never known, never to be 
known ; everything requiring earnest care and thought ; for 
we have said that, however light and easily read may be the 
novels of Mrs. Henry Wood, every one of them cost her 
immense reflection; every one was carefully and elaborately 
considered to the utmost of her ability. She always gave of 
her best, and nothing less satisfied herself When all this is 
taken* into account, it seems scarcely too much to say that 
few writers have possessed the gift of ideality in greater 
measure. As one recently wrote who has had experience 
above most literary men in England: "Who else but Scott 
could carry us through forty long novels so absorbingly that 
interest never flags and attention never wanders ? " 

Of her own works, Mrs. Henry Wood preferred The Shadow 
of Ashlydyat^ and thought it the most clever. 

Many will be inclined to agree with her. It is perhaps the 

^ Pronounced Ash-^j't/'-yat. 



256 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

most thoughtful and metaphysical of all her books ; and the 
interest is sustained by simple means. The only mystery in 
the book is the Shadow itself. The work almost entirely 
concerns the workings of the human heart and the motives 
which influence life and action. Again much of it is true, and 
Mrs. Wood knew well what she was doing ; she wrote it with 
no uncertain pen, no wavering purpose. The career of 
George Godolphin; the heart -history of Maria; its sorrow 
and anguish and endurance ; its sensitive fear and horror of 
the evils brought upon her — "afraid to walk through the 
streets unveiled" — suffering caused by the sins of others — 
herself only " a little lower than the angels " ; keenly alive to 
right and wrong — the rights and wrongs of others especially ; 
so upright and pure that she could not endure the slightest 
shadow of a suspicion to be cast upon her name and face the 
world — nay, could not and did not live under it : all this is 
painted with no hesitating hand. 

Every word, every thought is true to life, and for many of 
her facts Mrs. Wood did not draw upon her imagination. 
Nowhere is a stronger picture given of the truth that the sin 
a man commits frequently affects others more than himself; 
for such natures as George Godolphin do not as a rule realise 
all the evil they do, and are not capable of the keenest 
reproaches of conscience. Remorse came to George 
Godolphin in a degree : " all his life henceforth a dreary and 
tenantless mansion, haunted by vain regrets and pallid sorrow 
ful faces." But this was only when the last blow of all had 
been struck, and he had lost the sweetest of wives by his own 
careless neglect and thoughtless cruelty, all the trouble and 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 257 

anguish he had brought upon her ; and found himself in a 
new and lonely life, on the desolate shores of a foreign land ; 
wife gone, brother gone, without companion, without fortune, 
without child, and Miss Charlotte Pain flourishing in England 
— as such sirens so often flourish to the end. 

But much of Mrs. Henry Wood's heart was in such books 
as The Channings^ Roland Yorke, 2Lnd Johnny Ludlow ; whilst 
Mildred Arkell and St Martin's Eve were both great favourites 
with her. She thought Lord OakburtHs Daughters the most 
sensational of her works — as it is one of the most inter- 
esting ; whilst few are more powerful than George Canterbury's 
Will^ and few in their way perhaps so complete as Mrs, 
Halliburton's Troubles^ or read so powerful a lesson. 

No one took greater pleasure than herself in her own 
books. As the years went on she keenly enjoyed her own 
stories, and would re-read them every few years with as much 
interest as when they first appeared. Perhaps the only thing 
that gave her greater pleasure was to write them. For, as 
we have said, she lived amongst her characters, and sorrowed 
in taking leave of them as in parting with real friends. In 
the humorous parts laughter would often cause the pen 
to be laid down for the tears that flowed. There were 
tears of sorrow also ; regret for the inevitable misfortunes, 
or it might be the death, of one or other of her characters. 
A keen sense of humour more often than not is accom- 
panied by an equal sense of the pathetic. In a letter 
received soon after her death from her friend Canon 
M*Cormick, he begged that in whatever was written about her, 
justice might be done to this sense of humour. " Not only as 

17 



258 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

seen in her books, but as manifested in her life ; the keenness 
and quickness with which she saw and appreciated the point 
of a good story." 

One finds this in her works, and especially in Johnny Ludlow^ 
where one is as quickly moved to tears as to laughter. It was 
so in life. She possessed in the highest degree a living interest 
in things and people, indicative of strong vital force as well as 
human sympathy; combined in her, as often in others, with great 
powers of observation. This interest in things and people 
extended itself to everything that concerned their welfare ; to 
all social topics of the day. Seldom, however, did her pen 
take up the cause of such matters. She felt it was not her 
vocation, for these things often led to arguments, which she 
would never be drawn into. But if sbe departed from her 
rule, her insight into the curious workings of the human heart, 
her clear judgment went straight to the root of the matter. 
There sometimes came proof of this, and on two occasions 
they were nearly parallel cases. 

The first was in connection with Colburn's New Monthly 
Magazine, 

Mrs. Wood was at that time writing stories that touched 
upon certain religious topics and a danger that seemed 
threatening to England. The stories pointed out the subtle 
evil in question. After a time, a deputation interested 
in the evils exposed waited upon Mr. Francis Ainsworth 
and demanded the name of the author, promising untold 
retribution, beginning with Mr. Ainsworth himself, if the name 
were withheld. It was not given ; and nothing happened, and 
Mr. Ainsworth is still living. But the incident caused both 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 259 

author and editor much amusement and some lively cor- 
respondence: and was moreover a tribute to the truth and 
power of the stories. 

The second occasion happened when A Lifts Secret was 
passing through one of the magazines of the Religious Tract 
Society. This work touched upon the effects of Strikes and 
matters connected with them — movements then only commenc- 
ing, but from which the author saw that danger might arise to 
the industry of the country and trouble to the working classes. 

The dangers, by a series of dramatic incidents, were vividly 
portrayed in the course of the story, and those most concerned 
in the matter presently demanded the name of the writer who thus 
exposed and prophesied. The house in Paternoster Row was 
besieged and the windows were threatened. Again the name 
was withheld, and again house and windows were spared. This 
took place very many years ago, and many of the consequences 
foretold in A Lifers Secret have become matters of history. 

And as Mrs. Wood seldom took up a social subject, so she 
rarely wrote with a set purpose before her, though the contrary 
has occasionally been said. Two works, and two only, were 
written with a distinct purpose : A Lifis Secret and Danesbury 
House — the latter even more than the former; for A Lifts 
Secret was meant to amuse as well as to instruct, whilst the 
end and aim of Danesbury House is never lost sight of through- 
out the story. 

The history of the latter was as follows. The Scottish 
Temperance League had advertised a prize for a story show- 
ing the evils of intemperance. An old and valued friend 
of the author, once Vicar of Great Malvern and Rector of 



26o MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Falmouth, who had been domestic chaplain to the late Duke 
of Cambridge and spent many of his years at Court — one of 
Queen Adelaide's intimate friends — came to her one day, 
newspaper in hand. 

" My dear Mrs. Wood," he said, " here is work that you 
can and must do. No one could write it so well, or preach so 
eloquent a sermon." 

"You are paying me a great compliment," laughed Mrs. 
Wood, for a very great preacher stood before her. 

" I assure you that I mean what I say," returned her friend. 
" What do you think of my suggestion ? " 

"I do not much like the idea of competing for a prize," 
was the reply. " Is there not a slight want of dignity in this 
sort of thing ? " 

"I fancied so too, at the first moment," returned the 
Rector. " But I now think you might dismiss that idea for 
the sake of the good you would do." 

" You are taking too much for granted," said Mrs. Wood. 
^' I might fail." 

" My dear lady," was the retort, " if you compete for the 
prize and do not gain it, never believe in me again. I would 
stake my reputation upon your success." 

" There is another difficulty in the way," said Mrs. Wood, 
after a moment's reflection. "This advertisement has been 
out some time. Scarcely a month remains of the date when 
MSS. must be sent in ; I could not do it." 

" I am sure that you could," persisted the Rector. " You 
have the pen of a ready writer, and, beginning at once, will 
accomplish the task." Then turning to her husband, whose 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 261 

greatest friend he was, he added : " Won't you join your per- 
suasions to mine in this matter ? " 

Mr. Wood laughed his usual quiet, easy laugh. " I never 
influence my wife . in her writings," he replied. " She knows 
what to do so much better than I can tell her. If she com- 
petes, I have no doubt she will succeed; but if she feels 
disinclined to make the attempt, I would not urge it." 

The difference between Mr. Wood and the Rector was 
this : the one, though a learned divine, was also full of 
imagination and delighted in works of that description ; 
whilst the other believed that politics and abstruse books 
of science were the levers on which the world should 
move. Everything else was lightly esteemed, and above 
all things works of fiction. 

But the Rector gained his point. He so persuaded 
Mrs. Wood that she agreed to make the trial. She began 
the work at once, threw her heart into the subject, of which 
she recognised the importance, and for which her mind was 
even then full of material. Much, very much, of Danesbury 
House is true. In twenty-eight days the work was completed 
and sent off; an instance of very rapid writing, for a portion 
of that twenty-eight days had to be devoted to the plot. 

In due time Mrs. Wood, as the Rector had predicted, was 
successful. But from a pecuniary point of view it would 
have been better to have failed. She received the sum of 
one hundred pounds for a work which has sold by hundreds 
of thousands. And when, some years after, unknown to 
her, this same friend and Rector wrote to the Scottish 
Temperance League and said that he considered a further 



262 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

honorarium was due to the author of a success beyond their 
dreams, and a harvest never anticipated, the directors briefly 
replied that " they must decline making any further acknow- 
ledgment to the author of Danesbury House, as it would 
establish a precedent." 

The circumstance when related to Mrs. Wood caused 
her some pain : a little from this proof of want of apprecia- 
tion on the part of the League; but much more that the 
request should have been made. For no one ever cared less 
for the intrinsic merit of wealth, whilst duly measuring its 
necessity. The love of money was never hers. Even if she 
felt that she had met with less than justice at the hands 
of any, it was soon forgotten. If occasionally remonstrated 
with for too great leniency, there ever came the reply : " It 
will be all right in the end.'' When East Lynne had appeared, 
Harrison Ainsworth wrote and said : "I suppose now I shall 
never have another work from your pen." And she replied 
with the singleness of purpose that was part of herself: '* Yes, 
I will write you one more book." This was The Shadow of 
Ashlydyat, Harrison Ainsworth was charmed, thinking the 
title one of the best and most effective he had ever heard. 
For a moment Mrs. Wood had hesitated between this title and 
Lady GodolphirHs Folly, though much preferring the one she 
adopted. But its rhythm depends on the accent being laid 
upon the penultimate syllable of Ashlydyat ; dividing the 
name into three syllables only. It may be said that Mrs. 
Wood gave away the serial rights for which she received £60, 
and for which rights about the same time she was offered 
;^iooo. Perhaps it was greater generosity than Harrison 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 263 

Ainsworth deserved, though circumstances more than nature 
may have caused him to be the reverse of generous ; but 
we have seen that Mrs. Wood was never of the world, worldly. 

The allusions to Danesbury House bring to mind how it has 
been sometimes remarked that the author of that work, a 
temperance story, ought to have been herself an abstainer 
from wine. But though Danesbury House is certainly a 
temperance story, it does not advocate universal abstinence. 
This Mrs. Wood only thought necessary in certain cases. If 
there were people in the world who, like Dr. Johnson, could 
abstain but could not be moderate, for such there was only 
one thing to be done. There must be no hesitation or half 
measures. This is strictly laid down in Danesbury House ; no 
other way of escape is suggested. 

For those not so unfortunately constituted she saw, on the 
contrary, more virtue in moderation than in total abstinence, 
and this she practised. Whilst laying down strict rules of 
self-discipline, she was large-minded for others, believing that 
" all things are given us richly to enjoy," though in the spirit 
of discretion. Not hers the contracted nature of the ascetic, 
but the broad views of the philanthropist. All the troubles 
of the world could never have driven her to the cloister 
with its narrowing tendencies. Petty rules and ceremonials 
formed no part of her creed, but the state of the heart. Into 
her reUgion she carried her simple doctrine. To one ever self- 
denying, exceptional seasons of penance seemed a work of 
supererogation, which might presently be looked upon as a 
sacrifice and meritorious ; whispering, " Peace, peace," when 
there was no peace. In all such things there was the inevitable 






MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 



danger of substituting the ceremonial for the spiritual. Yet 
she never belonged to the extreme Low Church Party. As a 
girl she had attended the good old-fashioned High Church 
services of the Cathedral, where all things were done with 
simple grandeur and dignity ; and in such services she joined 
heart and soul. She had mixed with the old-fashioned 
dignitaries, and her love for them and their ways was too 
deep-rooted for any change. But the services of those days 
and of these are widely separated. For her religious views 
Mrs. Wood went to the New Testament, and what she did not 
tind there she would not believe and dared not advocate. 
Her convictions were unchangeable for she ever placed 
before her one Example whereon she rested. Arguments 
and dogmas she avoided leading others insensibly by the 
stroi^est of all mfluences— the unerring force of a consistent 




CHAPTER XXIII 



" And tholl art worthy ; full of power ; 
As gentle; liberal -minded, great, 
Consistenl ; wearing all thai weight 
Of learning lightly like a flower." 

No record of M s 
Henry Wood would 
be comple e w thout 
some ment on of 
Johnny Ludlow one 
of her ch ef and 
favour te charac e s 

fohnny Ludlow 
may be sa d to h&ve 
been Mrs ^\ ood s 
compan on continu 
ally in her thoughts 
and very much n 
her heart dtjr ng all 
the latter port on of 
for he papers extended ove a pe od of twenty 




266 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Whilst most of her other books were being written, Johnny 
Ludlow was constantly going on, and month after month some 
fresh story was being woven of which he was the hero and 
centre. The stories came to her without the slightest effort, 
and it gave her the greatest pleasure to write them. Had she 
lived for another twenty yeds^, Johnny Ludlow could never have 
quite ceased, though perhaps only appearing at longer intervals. 
For he had become part of her life ; a reality ; endowed with 
existence ; and she could no more have placed finis at the end 
of any one paper than she could have signed the death-warrant 
of a personal friend. Altogether she must have written con- 
siderably over a hundred Johnny Ludlow papers, reckoning 
each monthly part as a story; and every separate part had 
its own special plot or drama. But the stories were of various 
lengths ; some completing themselves in one number, others 
passing into two, three, or even more numbers. The two 
longest were the two last : Feat her stone^ s Story, that tragedy at 
the Maison Rouge, so much of which is actual fact ; and The 
Silent Chimes. 

It is true that towards the end, when so many stories had 
appeared, and Johnny Ludlo^v had gone through a multi- 
plicity of experiences, she found it more difficult to invent plots 
and situations, and to keep up the air of realism which had to 
be preserved. The same thread had to be visible in all ; Johnny 
Ludlow himself must always be in evidence. Nevertheless 
that fertile imagination, that, as Francis Ainsworth had re- 
marked years before, was an inexhaustible well whose waters 
grew sweeter the more you drew from it, would certainly never 
have ceased weaving plots and dramas, comedies and tragedies. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 267 

of which Johnny Ludlow held the key. The ease with which 
they were written must have added to the author's enjoyment, 
as it does to the reader's. 

When Mrs. Wood first began to write Johnny Ludlow, 
she had no idea to what dimensions the work would grow. 
The first stories, originally designed as short papers for the 
Argosy,, immediately became so popular that there was no 
resource but to go on with them. This was no trouble, but 
a great delight, which only increased as Johnny Ludlow and 
all his surroundings gradually took form and existence. 
Presently the author found herself in the midst of a crowd of 
early friends, scenes, and recollections arising as it were from 
a long-closed cavern of memory. Voices long silent awoke, 
faces long unseen revived ; many a lost echo, many a village 
street and country lane must have once more haunted her in 
th^st Johnny Ludlow days. 

To prove the truth and reality of these memories, and 
their effect upon others, we cannot forbear quoting from an 
article which appeared a little time ago upon Mrs. Henry 
Wood as the writer oi Johnny Ludlow, 

It is so exact a picture of Worcester and Worcestershire, the 
tone is so earnest, its quiet testimony so thorough, that it 
deserves a less ephemeral record than the pages of a magazine. 
The unknown author had evidently studied her subject care- 
fully and conscientiously, and drawn her conclusions amidst 
the very places and influences, the very same condition of 
people described in the stories. 

" Writing of her first stay in London," observes the writer 



268 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

of this article, "an American author said that her greatest 
pleasure lay not in the associations of celebrated persons and 
events in real life, but in the connection of the characters and 
incidents of her favourite author with the places and scenes she 
visited. 

"Something of this feeling is, no doubt, experienced by 
most imaginative and impressionable persons in a neighbour- 
hood or town endeared to them as the scene of favourite books. 
It would be a great advantage in many ways if every novelist 
of note would, in his writings, * work up ' the county or town 
with which he is most familiar. What an interesting and 
valuable picture of the varied phases of life, of which our little 
island is the scene, would be presented to a reader if there 
were a novelist to do for every county what Mrs. Henry Wood 
has done for Worcestershire ! 

"Whilst the latter has not confined herself exclusively to 
the one county in her writings, many of her books were all 
localised in the Faithful City or its shire. 

"There are few towns in England which can surpass 
Worcester for historic and antiquarian interests ; but as I drive 
down the Tything, and the Cross, and along dear old High 
Street, on my occasional visits, for me the celebrities of real 
life have a very hazy existence ; but I always feel that Squire 
Todhetley, accompanied by Tod and Johnny, is driving Bob 
and Blister in front of me, and if I put up at the * Star and 
Garter ' I shall surely see them. When the college boys come 
clattering through the Close at dinner-time, and tear off to their 
respective homes, I can see the young Channings and Yorkes, 
the Halliburtons and Sankers amongst them, and I always 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 269 

look out specially for dear Stephen Bywater. Many a time I 
have had lunch at the confectioner's in High Street from which 
Toby Sanker used to buy the penny pork pies for the impro- 
vised dinners of that ill-regulated household. 

" I often walk round the Close, trying to fix on the Chan- 
nings' house, and, in fancy, hear Roland Yorke's tremendous 
peals on the bell. Here is the scene of the tragedy with which 
the book bearing his name opens ; and I never stand at the 
wall to the west of the beautiful Cathedral, below which the 
river winds its lovely course, without thinking of the mischiev- 
ous college boys mounted thereon, throwing poor old Ketch's 
keys into the swift-flowing water. The sight of a barge floating 
along brings to mind poor Charley Channing and his mis- 
adventure — a true incident, which we believe really occurred 
many years ago in the city. 

"One might continue such recollections indefinitely, so 
completely is the whole city incorporated with one or other of 
Mrs. Henry Wood's tales ; but I wish specially to refer here 
to the charge occasionally brought against her of improbability 
in her plots and incidents, a charge which, in my opinion, is 
utterly unfounded. 

"In general, all elderly persons, at all events, must have 
learned, by life's experience, that truth is stranger than fiction, 
and that it would be almost impossible for a novelist to invent 
more improbable things than the happenings of real life ; and in 
particular, I have it on excellent authority, that our authoress 
had a most remarkable experience of life and people, and 
never invented a single plot that had not in it a substratum of 
truth : truth and fiction being cunningly blended together ; as 



270 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

it is in the works of all our greatest novelists, from Scott down- 
wards. And often it will be found that the most improbable 
incidents are those drawn, not from imagination but from fact. 
Though quite unacquainted with Mrs. Henry Wood, and only 
coming to reside in her county after her death, I have my- 
self met with several exactly parallel cases to some of her 
incidents. 

" The tales which fill the several volumes of the Johnny 
Ludlow series are made up of very simple material; the 
charm and fascination which they have for their thousands 
of readers being in the manner of writing, and the accurate 
pictures of country life and people which they present — 
pictures as true and distinct as photographs, and which 
every one feels must have been drawn direct from 
nature. 

" Some great man has said that every person's life is worth 
writing, and would be interesting if written well \ and certainly 
every small town with the adjacent country can furnish 
abundant material for such a work zs Johnny Ludlow, if only 
it numbered amongst its inhabitants a literary * witch' who, 
like Mrs. Henry Wood, would ^rnake these dry bones live' 
by the mere force of her genius. But these * witches ' are 
only born once in a century. 

" But interesting as her pictures of Worcester are, it is in 
her delineation of the rural life of the county that one who has 
lived there can appreciate best Mrs. Henry Wood's thorough 
acquaintance with her subject, and her power of presenting it 
to others. She has been charged with * unnaturalness ' in the 
language and speech of her country-folk ; I have heard people 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 271 

say that they were sure that no such dialect could be found in 
England, and I confess that until I lived amongst them I was 
also doubtful. 

" But a few months' acquaintance with the uncouth dialect, 
and curious, grating accent peculiar to this county, convinced 
me that on this point, more, perhaps, than on any other, Mrs. 
Henry Wood distinctly knew her work. In real life, as in her 
novels, these people seem to try how awkwardly they can word 
their sentences, and how often they can substitute the objective 
or possessive case for the nominative, and vice versa ; and 
how narrow a limit they can put to their verb conjugations. 
A man will say, * Now, Tom, let we have us dinners.' Be is 
generally used for am and are, and have for has, while for 
have proper we hear haves, ^ 

" The scenes of a great portion of Johnny Ludlow'' s tales 
are laid in that part of the county which lies between the city 
and the Lickey Hills, the Severn and the county boundary; 
Crabb Cot lying just on the dividing line of Worcestershire 
and Warwickshire. 

" In this area we find some of the prettiest villages, quaintest 
little towns, and most unspoiled phases of country life that the 
midland counties can offer. More charming villages than 
Clent, Hagley, or Ombersley (the scene of Bill Whitney's 
hunting accident), it would be hard to find ; and wandering on 
a bright summer's morning down the little streets, past their 
quiet churches and pretty creeper-covered houses and cottages, 
one feels that one has indeed alighted on the originals of the 
lovely village which figures under so many different names in 
the books under discussion. 



272 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

" Wdrcestershire is remarkable for the number and variety 
of its country seats and beautiful half-timbered houses. 

" It is impossible to go far in any direction without meeting 
with some of the former, of which we find specimens of every 
description and grade, from the stately old castle and its 
modern imitation, to the rambling Tudor or Jacobean farm- 
house of the well-to-do yeomen, a class of people of sterling 
worth, well represented in this county, and for whom Mrs. 
Wood seems to have entertained much respect, recognising 
and delineating them as the keystone of agricultural prosperity. 
/ We meet with them again and again in her books ; the family 
of Coney in Johnny Ludlow being an excellent example. It 
is with such families that I am best acquainted ; and in exactly 
such a farmhouse as she has often depicted (that in Dene 
Hollow^ for instance) I am writing these lines. 

"This class is frequently the equal of the less wealthy 
portion of the landed gentry in education, breeding, manner 
of life, and wealth (in this respect, indeed, they often have the 
advantage), the difference being that they rent instead of own 
their land, and generally their houses too. The homesteads 
are handed down from generation to generation, in some cases 
for hundreds of years, and they are as dear to the occupants 
as if they were their own possessions. 

" The house in which I am now living is like the family, a 
typical one of its class, and was built by an ancestor near the 
site of the original one ; and a good deal of the old brick and 
timber having been used again, it presents a much more 
antique appearance than it can really lay claim to. The 
polished oak landing and stairs look strangely out of keeping 



« 

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o 

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E 

> 

PQ 

m 

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P^ 
O 



CO 




MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 273 

with the red quarried hall-floor ; but in the wide whitewashed 
kitchen (evidently built in the days when eight or ten men and 
women farm-hands sat down every day to share in the contents 
of the huge baking-oven) everything is in harmony, from the 
great open fireplace, where one can sit in the chimney-corner 
and watch the smoke ascend straight up towards the sky, to 
the half-circular oak screen or settle, and vast oak sideboard 
with its array of cider jugs and cups. 

"To speak of Worcestershire without mentioning cider 
would certainly be to describe the play of Hamlet with the 
part of Hamlet left out. 

" What would the dwellers in a non-cider-drinking county 
say to the cellars of this house having contained at one time 
forty hogsheads, each of loo-gallon capacity, and two of 200- 
gallon, all filled with that delectable beverage one autumn, and 
emptied before the next ? 

" Yet such is a fact ; and when one has seen a little of the 
habits of the people, it ceases to be a wonder. Summer and 
winter, day and night, beginning directly after breakfast, the 
cider is always flowing, and it is a matter of the barest civility 
to offer a jugful to every one who passes through one's yard. 
But if you wish to see it in full flow, just be about the yard on 
hunt days, when there is a * find ' or a * kill ' near the house. 

" Every man, whether he be acquainted with the master of 
the place or not, by virtue of that freemasonry which seems to 
exist alike amongst hunting men and cider-drinkers, crowds 
into the yard or garden, and has a good pull at the fine old 
Worcester mugs and loving cups, which are refilled as fast as 
emptied from the buckets brought up out of the cellar ! 

18 



274 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

"One finds not only excellent old furniture, but exquisite 
antique china and silver in common use amongst these people. 
I see on the tables, every day, tea-sets and silver-ware which 
nouveaux riches and curiosity -mongers would gladly buy for 
drawing-room ornaments. 

" I do not recollect that Mrs. Henry Wood dwells much on 
scenery in her novels, excepting in so far as it is necessary to 
the working out or setting of a story — * word-painting ' had not 
become the fashion in the days when her style was formed, — 
but what descriptions she does give us are very clear-cut and 
distinct, and generally intensely Worcestershire. 

" If I were asked to describe one or two typical bits of the 
scenery of this county, I could not do better than refer the 
questioner to the pictures of his home, in the tale of Francis 
Radcltffe^ for one kind, and to the opening chapters of Treviyn 
Hold for another. The * setting' of Dene Hollow and The 
Shadow of Ashlydyat is also singularly good ; and with the 
neighbourhood of the latter I am well acquainted. But the 
old, old house surrounded by lofty elms, with their hundreds 
of cawing rooks, that formed * Selina Radcliffe's home,' is as 
truly a photograph from nature as any that was ever taken ; 
and one only fails to localise it exactly because the counterpart 
is met with so many times in dear, pretty Worcestershire. 

"Mrs. Henry Wood has indeed conferred a distinction 
upon her county, which can never be too thoroughly recognised 
or too greatly appreciated. S. M. C." 



Every word here bears directly upon the subject, and 
i testifies to the fidelity of the stories. The article seems to 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 275 

bring Johnny Ludlow and all his surroundings still more 
vividly before us; to lift him still more into the realms of 
actual existence ; it is the impartial testimony of an eye-witness, 
who has studied the matter on the very spot, and decided that 
people and places, manners and customs of Worcestershire 
life — from the impulsive squire, and homely, true-hearted Sir 
John, to Miss Timmens, the village schoolmistress, and Lee, 
the humble postman — are all true pictures of the life described. 

As the stories appeared from time to time, the secret of 
their authorship was well kept; the slightest whisper never 
transpired. Friends would occasionally say to her : " Mrs. 
Wood, who is the author oi Johnny Ludlow ? " And she would 
laugh and reply : " That is a secret that will no doubt some 
day be known"; and none suspected that the writer stood 
before them. 

The stories had been appearing for some years when a 
certain number of them were gathered into book form, and 
published anonymously as. a First Series. The press received 
the book with the highest praise, some critics declaring 
they had not suspected the existence of a writer of so much 
power, none imagining for a moment that they referred to the 
author of East Lynne, 

But the mystery caused various people to claim the author- 
ship. Amongst these was one who, in the course of a trial at 
a fashionable watering-place, declared upon oath that he was 
the writer of Johnny Ludlow, This could not be treated as 
a mere dishonest boast. The lawyers conducting the case 
were communicated with, and the author of the assertion had 
publicly to retract his statement. He wrote to the papers 



276 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

declaring that what he had said was untrue, and that he had 
never written one line of Johnny Ludlow, At the same time 
he sent a letter to the still unknown author, through Messrs. 
Bentley and Son, begging for mercy — which he received. 

We may cite Xhe^t Johnny Ludlow papers as another proof 
of Mrs. Wood's fertility of invention. For twenty years they 
appeared in rapid succession. The tax upon the inventive 
powers necessarily grew greater as the stories multiplied. Yet 
to the end there was no falling off in vigour and freshness. 
Caramel Cottage, one of the last, is also one of the best. The 
stories form a crowd and company of living people, standing 
out separately and distinctly each from the other. Six volumes 
in all, equal in length to six novels, five of which have 
appeared. 

We can quite realise how Mrs. Wood delighted in this 
work. The scene was laid in her favourite county — her own 
county — Worcestershire. Every place she describes, every 
house and village, every highway and by-way, every country 
sound, had been impressed upon her memory in childhood ; 
the whole neighbourhood — an immense area — had entwined 
itself round her heart-strings. It also bears witness to her 
powers of memory. Very much of three counties is described 
with a minuteness almost bewildering; yet when the last 
Johnny Ludlow was written, more than half a century had 
gone by since Mrs. Wood had seen the places delineated. 

With her characters it is less surprising. We forget places, 
but we do not forget our friends. To write of Johnny Ludlow 
was to go back to her early youth and restore friends and 
acquaintances from the dead. Some of course are imaginary. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 277 

but many were portraits of people who had once lived and 
moved and had their being. If her pleasure was great, it 
must often have been bitter-sweet. Sir John and Lady 
Whitney, the Squire and Mrs. Todhetley, and a host of others 
— she had known them all intimately in days of old. To 
endow them as it were with a second life must have had in 
it something of the pain we experience in burning old letters. 
In the flames we see rising dead-and-gone faces — thoughts — 
episodes. It is a funeral pyre, of which our hearts are the 
victims. When the last flame has expired, and the ashes lie 
smouldering like so many of our dead hopes, we realise that the 
charm of life is over. Then is it "good-bye t6 youth," as 
the Austrian Emperor remarked on his fiftieth /oirthday ; and 
that means good-bye to all the glamour of Existence ; very 
much of it illusion no doubt, but a fooFs para/clise in which we 
have fondly lingered, and would linger still. >/ 

Yet the pleasure of ^ri\!\ng Johnny Ludlow seemed to grow 
greater, not to diminish. And the brain never failed. It was 
loss of physical power that at last caused the pen to fall from 
the hand. 

We have spoken of one who either personated Mrs. Wood, 
or took credit for her works. Others had occasionally done 
the same thing, though less publicly. Once, many years ago, 

a lady, Mrs. C , came to Mrs. Wood in great distress. 

The previous day an acquaintance, not knowing her to be 
Mrs. Wood's friend, declared that she had written every 
one of Mrs. Wood's books. "Of course I knew it to be 
impossible, but I was obliged to come and tell you," exclaimed 
Mrs. C , impulsively shedding tears. Mrs. Wood, on 



278 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

the contrary, only met it with her quiet smile, declaring that 
such assertions could harm none but those who spoke them. 
On another occasion a person well known to Mrs. Wood was 
taking a common friend in to dinner at a country-house in 
Shropshire. Again unaware that the lady upon his arm was 
also acquainted with Mrs. Wood, he boldly declared that he 
did most of the editing of the Argosy, and had written quite 
half Mrs. Wood's works. This gentleman, now in holy orders 
and a country vicar, has no doubt repented the error of his 
ways. On yet another occasion, Mrs. Henry Wood's daughter 
was at a ball at the late Sir William Walker's, when her host 
brought up and introduced a gentleman for the next dance. 
At the same time he made some flattering allusion to the 
author of East Lynne, When the dance was over, the young 
man went gravely up to Sir William and said : " That young 
lady cannot be genuine, or there is some mistake. She is not 
Mrs. Henry Wood's daughter at all. I know the author of 
East Lynne intimately. She lives near my home in the 
country, and we often meet This young lady lives in 
London, and, I see plainly, knows nothing about the real Mrs. 
Henry Wood." 

Sir William, a Httle annoyed and a little amused, replied : 
" I assure you, sir, that whoever your Mrs, Henry Wood 
may be, she is not the author of East Lynne, who is my 
personal friend. And, further, allow me to say that the young 
lady with whom you have just had the honour of dancing is 
not here to-night as my guest under false colours." Then 
leaving the young man in a state of unhappy perplexity, he 
went up to Miss Wood, and with much humour narrated the 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 279 

incident, laughingly advising her to enter an action for slander 
against her late partner. 

Whilst mentioning mistakes and impositions, a bold one 
may be recorded. On this occasion it was not personat- 
ing the writer or taking credit for authorship, but reproducing 
the work itself. Messrs. Savill and Edwards, who were blame- 
less in the matter, were printing a penny weekly paper, which 
was being issued from some house in the Strand. A writer, 
whose name was well known, conceived the idea of taking 
East Lynne and bringing it out in this penny paper. Printers, 
proprietors, and editors knew nothing of the fraud. The title 
of the book was changed, and the name of every character ; 
with that exception the text was word for word East Lynne. 
But the fraud was discovered, and Mrs. Wood's solicitors 
wrote to Messrs. Savill and Edwards stating that if the story 
were not at once stopped, an injunction would be applied for. 
Not only was this done, but after that week the paper never 
appeared again. The title which replaced East Lynne was How 
could she do tt? by the author of The Black Angel ; and perhaps 
the author of The Black Angel had not to search very far for 
his hero. 

A pleasanter coincidence than this had happened years 
before. 

On one occasion, when living abroad, Mr. and Mrs. Wood 
had come over on a visit to England, and were staying at a 
private hotel in Dover Street, Piccadilly, where they made the 
acquaintance of some charming people ; a gentleman and his 
wife who were staying there at the same time. At this period 
Mrs. Wood was writing a series of letters called Ensign Tom 



28o MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Feppii's letters from the Seat of War, supposed to be written 
by a. young officer in the Crimea. One morning the lady in 
question mentioned to Mrs. Wood that her husband had gone 
out for a magazine. " He is deeply interested in some letters 
that are appearing in Colburris New Monthly," she said, 
" and can scarcely wait patiently from one month to another. 
We are both certain they are genuine," she emphatically added. 
Mrs. Wood, who seldom spoke of her writings to her most 
intimate friends, and never at all to strangers, could not help 
laughing at the singular situation, and in the impulse of the 
moment betrayed herself; and great was their astonishment at 
finding that the author of those mascuhne and realistic letters 
was none other than the calm and gentle lady whose ac- 
quaintance they had so recently made. This incident took 
place some forty years ago. 




CHAPTER XXIV 



' ' And heai a.t times a. sentinel 

Who moves about from place to place, 
And whispers to the worlds of space. 
In the deep night, that all is well." 

We have given an 
\ extract from an un- 
I known critic upon 
I Johnny Ludlow, and 
[ venture upon an- 
other short analysis 
\ of some of Mrs, 
] Henry Wood's other 
I works, by one of the 
' ablest critics of the 
day. 

We do so because 

Dr. Japp, with keen 

perception of a 

Cloisteh!, ■wono'iTHR Cathhdhal Writer's thoughts and 

motives, the mental idiosyncrasy which must inevitably lead 

to certain given results in given writers, seems to enter into 




282 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

and understand Mrs. Wood's power and individuality more 
accurately than many, and to have bestowed much thought 
upon the matter. 

The article, which appeared in the pages of a periodical, 
does not pretend to be exhaustive, or to go profoundly and 
elaborately into the whole list of works, or to touch completely 
even upon any one of them. But as far as it does go it is true 
and appreciative, and suggestive ; placing certain thoughts and 
problems before the reader and allowing him to work out the 
argument for himself. This surely is one of the true ends of 
reviewing, which should be based upon broad principles, and 
include every side of an author's merits as well as defects. The 
inevitable tendency of criticism is to search for and dwell upon 
shortcomings, but Dr. Japp's criticisms are broad and generous, 
and if he does not spare the flaws in a writer, neither does 
he withhold praise ; so striking a just balance. 

"There are fashions in books as there are fashions in 
dress," remarks the article in question. " We are sometimes 
inclined to wonder nowadays at the tastes and the patience of 
our ancestors, who would pore with delight over the somewhat 
tedious epistolary pages of Richardson, or even over the more 
concentrated passages of Jane Austen, to which her keen 
knowledge of character and motive within a widened range 
imparted new accesses of interest. Yet it is not too much to 
say that probably the readers of the end of next century will 
wonder as much at some of our predilections. 

"The truth is that, just as the sciences oscillate, so do 
tastes and appetites, even in the refined sphere of literature of 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 283 

the fictitious kind. One school overdoes its speciality, and 
people get sated and demand an indulgence in the very 
opposite. And so the pendulum swings. Sometimes all the 
rage is for realism, and the realists out-Herod Herod ; and 
then once more comes in fantasy, extravagance, and all manner 
of caprices and eccentricities. 

" We owe something to the writers who manage to unite 
the two tendencies, and as it were stand on the happy mean, 
and secure permanence, combining realistic and faithful por- 
traiture with invention and incident, mystery, surprise, and 
sensation ; imparting new interests to everyday affairs ; and 
who, while catching hold of the sublime, ethical principles that 
penetrate all life, manage to invent as well as to represent, and 
so reveal to us the very spirit and secret meaning of the life 
amid which we move. 

" These are the writers who have the most chance to live. 
Mr. Anthony Trollope was a great photographer, but he some- 
times lacked invention as he lacked Ethos^ and it told upon 
his books, as it is likely to tell upon their permanent hold. 
Mr. Charles Reade sometimes overdid the Ethos^ and was 
besides too egotistical and too little dramatic, however dramatic 
he was in style and form ; and he is likely to lose considerably 
with the future on this score. George Eliot was a very great 
artist, but she too was over- reflective, and despised a little 
what is ordinarily called action or movement 

"Mrs. Henry Wood combined in a remarkable degree 
these two powers or qualities — realistic portraitures of men 
and women, with invention, construction, and surprises. She 
successfully used sensational elements for moral ends, and so 



284 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

at the most fitting moment met a great need and corrected a 
vicious tendency, hardly otherwise corrigible. It is because we 
believe her remarkable merits and services in this regard have 
hardly yet had full recognition — her invention, as seen in some 
of her less successful works, having been dwelt on too much to 
the exclusion of those in which both elements were happily 
united — that we would endeavour to justify the position 
we would thus claim for her as novelist, the best of whose 
work has not only been a source of delight and elevation 
to the present generation, but is likely to hold its place for 
many generations to come. 

" It is one of the highest proofs of creative power that the 
artist can afford to wait — to let the characters develop them- 
selves. *Raw haste, half-sister to delay,' is just as ruinous 
here as in matters of practical conduct. 

"So much is this sl sine qua non in fiction that a 'retard- 
ing element' is often introduced, and indeed sought for and 
desiderated by the critics, which is, at the best, simply a kind of 
artificial expedient to supply the place of the other — an attempt 
to make mere trick of artificial construction do the work of 
insight into life and its morale. 

" One of the true tests of success is the sense of sympathy 
and toleration — the power of impressing the reader with a 
complete belief in the reality of the characters on the author's 
part, as though they had been lived with, observed, patiently 
* put -up -with,' and had sometimes amused, and sometimes 
vexed and irritated. 

" The result is that they affect you precisely as the author 
feels that they affected her. This implies a close attention to 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 285 

the minutest details of conduct, habit, and idiosyncrasy. This 
gave the sense of reality to Jane Austen and Miss Ferrier : it 
also gives force and attraction to the stories of Mrs. Henry 
Wood. 

"But in her case you find also a new order of agencies 
brought into play. 

" She is apt at incident, situation, and sensational surprise. 
Her plots are completely thought out — very seldom do loose 
threads appear ; and yet in the most successful and popular of 
her novels there is no sense of inharmoniousness. The charac- 
ters are caught up, involved in the most unexpected circum- 
stances of mystery and crime ; but each retains the dominant 
characteristic, only modified, it may be, as to its energy and 
the manner of expression. 

" In Lady Adelaide^ for instance, we see all this ; and the 
effects of the burden of a secret on the human heart, with no 
pretence of casuistry, is revealed. So too in The Red Court 
Farm, and The Master of Greylands, where evil traffic persisted 
in leaves effects not only on those innocently involved in its 
coils, but also on those who, having once committed them- 
selves to an unworthy course of action, found to their cost that 
the ends they had purposed were defeated by the very means 
taken secretly to secure them. 

"And yet, in the midst of all this, we have a group of 
persons as truly real as those we meet with every day. 

" In The Master of Grey lands we have the querulous, exact- 
ing mistress, the tomboy Flora, who sets the house by the ears, 
and Ethel Reeve, so sweet, patient, and confiding, and Mr. 
North whose courtship of Ethel is the most natural conceivable 



286 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

— not to mention the worthy pair, so well contrasted in temper 
and ways, Mr. and Mrs. Bent, at the inn. 

" Miss Castlemaine, too, who becomes head of the Grey 
Sisters, and at the last refuses the weak-kneed fellow who 
allowed her father to separate them and to choose a wife for 
him, and this though he had now become a baronet — Sir 
William Blake-Gordon, and a most tempting parti. But you 
feel that Mary Ursula is exactly the woman who, having once 
chosen such a work, would stick to it — having put her hand to 
the plough, would not turn back. 

"Not seldom the very absence of all conscious artistic 
elaboration aids the effects of reality and truth, which it is the 
business of the novelist to secure ; and the immense and last- 
ing success of Mrs. Henry Wood's novels demonstrates this in 
face of the superfine and captious criticism of which she has 
occasionally been the subject. 

" In opposition to a very great deal of this, we have found, 
as a result of the elements we have hinted at, and in some of 
her novels in its very highest form — notably in Lord Oakbiirn^s 
Daughters^ George Canterbury s Will, The Red Court Farm, 
Mildred Arkell, and St, Martinis Eve — one of the most rare 
and at the same time one of the most unmistakable evidences 
of true power in creative art ; and that is the quality of inevit- 
ableness in the development of the characters. 

" You can foresee in a general way how the thing will neces- 
sarily end, and this only whets the desire to know how it will 
end. 

" Take Lord Oakburn^s Daughters, The characters of the 
four sisters are admirably contrasted and sustained. Lady 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 287 

Jane, so serious and self-respecting, so submissive to tradition 
and legitimate authority, so considerate of others and yet so 
ready to defy what she regarded as unjust or really inconsider- 
ate towards herself, there is no Hkelihood that she should 
compromise herself, or act in any headstrong manner. Lady 
Laura is headstrong, vain — a flirt from the first moment that 
we see her — sure almost to fall into some pit dug for her by 
any one who is designing enough and cool enough to carry out 
the deception in a polished manner. As for that dead sister, 
it is evident that she was independent in character, and too 
self-reliant, without the check of insight and experience, and 
also rushed on her fate through other defects than her sprightlier 
and more foolhardy sister. The picture of Lady Jane, when 
her father, to her surprise, brought back the governess as his 
wife, is one in which mastery of situation and faithful character- 
drawing are alike conspicuous. And then the youngest, we see 
in her precisely the influence we should expect from Lady 
Jane, sufficient to steady and to guide. 

" We find the same power in George Canterbury's WilL 
" The leading characters are all life-like, real — what is more, 
their character is their fate. Caroline, who rejects the honest, 
frank and manly Thomas Kage, for the sake of George Canter- 
bury's money, and who, when the time comes, fancies she has 
only to throw herself at Thomas Kage to be accepted, we 
see her fate prefigured in the very capability for so acting. 
She rejected the gold for the tinsel when the gold was at her 
feet, and finds herself the slave and victim of the tinsel at the 
last, when, in reaction, she weds the designing, unscrupulous 
scoundrel, Captain Dawkes. 



288 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

" * A knave is nothing but a fool with a circumbendibus ' was 
hardly ever better illustrated. 

"And Captain Dawkes, too, we see his fate prefigured in 
the very first glimpse we have of him. But Mrs. Wood 
manages to sustain the needful interest in the contemptible 
creature by the play of a fine humour. Some of the scenes in 
which he figures with his sister Keziah are very powerful ; and 
the relations in which the two place themselves to the old, 
crusty, good-hearted, penetrating, half-deaf Mrs. Garston, with 
her stick and its significant rap-rap when she has anything 
emphatic to say, may take rank with the studies of the earlier 
masters for truth, realism, and incisive portraiture. 

" And Mrs. Henry Wood has the genius to act on Charles 
Readers motto without affecting it. 

" The characters unfold themselves by word, by action ; she 
does not describe, or describes but little. For faithfulness 
of outline, for force of presentation, few studies in character 
of recent years have been better than old Mrs. Garston. 
Millicent Canterbury and Keziah (given up, with all a weak 
woman's fondness, to the hopeless task of reforming a rake, or 
at least of catering for him when she can) are fine contrasts ; 
as are Thomas Kage and Barnaby Dawkes. Nor do we 
forget Lady Kage and her peculiarities, nor poor Belle 
Annesley and her fate, which imparts a pathetic colour to the 
latter part of the story. Here, less than in some other of Mrs. 
Wood's stories, there is no strain in the plot ; the conception 
is simple, natural; and the characters in working out their 
destiny create, as it were, the action and the complexity of 
circumstances. The story has very great elements of interest. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 289 

" In Roland Vorke, too, you see the same tokens of power. 
The various characters forecast themselves; poor Hamish 
Channing, too sensitive, delicate, tremulous, with fine genius 
unrealised or undeveloped; Gerald Yorke, with his lacquer 
polish, pretension, low cunning, jealousy, and mean revenge ; 
and Roland Yorke, incapable of finesse as incapable of sus- 
picion, though his instincts about Gerald held him right. That 
scene where Roland is summoned to the bedside of his 
relative, the baronet, whom he is to succeed, and cannot be 
made to realise it as possible that he can be successor to the 
wealth and title, is in its own way excellent. 

"Poor Roland — with his tons of frying-pans in Natal, a 
drug and a failure, which he could not help referring to, in his 
frank, boyish way, to the constant discomfort, even disgust, of 
some of his friends — was a true gentleman at heart ; the un- 
conventional, Nature^s gentleman ; and as such Mrs. Wood 
meant him to be accepted, in contrast to the polish and veneer 
of that gentleman of the world Gerald Yorke. That there is 
no definite pointing of the contrast only makes the effect the 
more felt — the author leaves the contrasted pictures to point 
their own moral, just as in life itself. 

" In Dene Hollow^ too — though here a great deal more of 
the mysterious is introduced and used effectively for the 
author's purposes — we have proof of the same power in the 
portraits of Tom Clanwaring and his cousin Geoffrey, in Maria 
Owen, and at least one other character. 

" In Vernet^s Pride^ also, we note the presence of the 
same characteristics, associated with more of plot, mystery, 
and surprise, which Mrs. Wood, in her happier conceptions, 

19 



290 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

knew so well how to combine with fresh, natural studies of 
life. 

" Who that has read Verner's Pride can forget the trials of 
that honest gentleman Mr. Lionel Verner, so resolved to do 
right, yet acting fatally under impulse in submitting himself to 
the wiles of a designing siren, and rejecting a faithful lover, who, 
however, proved herself to be one of the truest stamp, and in 
the end found her reward ; or Jan, that genuine, but awkward 
medical practitioner, despised by his family, who were, indeed, 
half-ashamed of him, but who in a crisis could do the most 
self-denying things without any thought that they deserved 
any particular notice, and finally surprised them all by making 
such a marriage — * poor, despised, ill-dressed Jan ' — as brought 
honour to the house. 

"That is a true study, — close, careful, loving, direct from 
life, surely ; we cannot fancy that any novelist would or could 
invent such a character, and never have known, some time or 
other, just such a one, and understood and loved him as he 
deserved. 

" It is long since we came to the conclusion that no effort 
of invention can produce a true character j that all the most 
excellent work of the novelist is, after all, as Goethe said, 
re-presentation ; that, in its highest aspects, fiction is a mirror 
of life and character — no more, no less. 

" What is merely spun out of the brain is like the cobweb 
spun out of the spider's inside ; it may shine and glimmer in 
the sun, but the slightest wind blows it away, and leaves no 
more record or impression than if it had not been. 

" What an author has met, faithfully observed, and lovingly 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 291 

and patiently dwelt on, is that which pleases us — which holds 
us as with a sense of right. The fable may be and must be 
in so far invented ; but that, with a true novelist, is only the 
string on which the jewels are strung. The art lies in pre- 
serving the sense of consistency in character and act, and 
making it minister to the fable or the movement. 

*' In her best moods Mrs. Henry Wood does this, as George 
Eliot and Mrs. Gaskell did it. She tells us what she has 
known and felt ; and every now and then we are pulled up 
with a sense of surprise, remarking to ourselves : * That, at 
any rate, is a bit of autobiography, nothing less.' In The 
ChanningSy and yet more expressly in Mrs. Halliburton's 
Troubles, this is felt;^d m Johnny Ludlow the peculiar way 
in which the author's experiences are involved with those of 
the young lad forms one of the main attractions in the book. "1 

" The reader may not always realise this ; it was not the 
intention of the author that he should realise it, and the 
triumph of her art is here — that what she has seen and known 
is- so faithfully translated to us through the medium of a young 
and forming mind— a mature mind speaking through the 
medium of a young mind without any sense of egotism or 
contradiction. 

" But all the time, while we believe in Johnny Ludlow, we 
know that Johnny Ludlow is himself a creation, in the sense 
of being indirectly represented, like any other character. The 
simpler the art in this kind — the less of consciously-created 
machinery used as a means to forward the author's plan — the 
more of dramatic genius in the higher sense we have, for it 
is much easier to spin a fable than to portray a character 



292 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

consistently and continuously on the mere planes of ordinary 
life and incident. 

"It was universally acknowledged, on the appearance 
of the first Johnny Ludlow papers, that they were master- 
pieces in their own line. The later ones, it may be, failed 
a little in the freshness, the clear outline, the natural atmo- 
sphere that marked the earlier. This was also unavoidable ; 
but even they would have made a reputation if they had come 
first. 

" The dramatic atmosphere is so well maintained. It is the 
young lad who speaks from first to last — there is no lapse in 
this respect. Even if he becomes a little loose and garrulous, 
and inclined to dwell on less important points, it is still 
Johnny Ludlow to whom we listen. The pathos is natural 
and never forced; the humour is never hackneyed; all the 
world of that gruff, bluff, kindly old Worcestershire squire is 
painted for us with the simplest realism, seen through the 
double medium of the squire's experience and Johnny's in- 
experience or half-experience. 

"Mrs. Wood's rare knowledge of boy -nature, and her 
insight into it, of which we had had many evidences in The 
Channings^ Lady Grace, etc., come out here in a very definite 
and attractive manner. 

''Johnny Ludlow was published with the utmost secrecy as 
to authorship at first ; and yet, though the Argosy, Mrs. 
Wood's own magazine, was the medium, the secret was kept 
for a long time — in fact, the papers were issued in book form, 
and had been reviewed in all the leading critical journals, 
before the authorship was guessed at; and then it was 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 293 

divulged, not by a reviewer, as a result of insight, but by the 
author. 

" Mrs. Wood apparently had a purpose in thus acting. It 
had become the habit of criticism to treat her as though she 
were merely a spinner of plot, — a dealer in murders, mysteries, 
surprises, and moving accidents of all kinds. She took the 
best means of disproving these allegations, and at the same 
time had the very best sort of victory over the reviewers that 
it is possible for an author to have. The self-same elements 
that were so highly praised in the first Johnny Ludlow volumes 
were the very qualities which had so long and persistently 
been denied her. 

" And the victory of the author over the reviewers did not 
end here. For this reason : that a careful and acute critic, had 
he read with close attention and impartial eye the earlier 
novels of Mrs. Henry Wood, could scarcely have escaped 
finding that her treatment of boy-nature, from the beginning, 
was just such as to lead to expectation of such a work as 
Johnny Ludlow, 

"We look in vain elsewhere for such renderings. Other 
authors, like Mrs. Hodgson Burnett, have made admirable 
little panel pictures, if we may call them so, with a single 
figure set forward marked by unmistakable grace and senti- 
ment, as in Little Lord Fauntkroy ; but there is a sense of 
exceptional and over-refined delicacy about this work as about 
others of its class; a remoteness from real boy -nature; a 
something so wistfully select and uncommon that it strictly 
belongs to a class by itself. It stands to Mrs. Wood's Johnny 
Ludlow papers, and the sketches of boy-life in the earlier 



r 



294 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

novels, precisely as a painting of the Watteau type does to the 
realistic delineations of the French peasant-painter, Millet. In 
Mrs. Henry Wood you have the English boy set before you 
precisely as he is, with all his frank honesty, with all his 
ingenuousness, with all his unconscious rudeness, his insou- 
ciance, his trickiness, and his queer mixture of unaffected 
affection and capacity for cruelty, in certain directions. No 
lady-writer, in this respect, has ever approached her. 

" We recall here, as a feeble justification of what we have 
said, a little passage from Lady Grace — a novel that has some 
of the weakness as well as much of the strength of the author 
— in which two half-brothers are set before us — C5rrus and 
Charley Baumgarten ; very fine boy-studies indeed. The two 
are at the College School in a Cathedral City, and there is a 
chronic feud between the boys of that school and the boys of 
a Charity School near by. One day Charley — the younger — 
gets set upon by a posse of these boys, and his big brother 
reaches him just in time to beat them off. He then leads 
Charley, whom, on his own account, he constantly bullies and 
sits upon, into the cloisters and soothes him ; and the dialogue 
which follows stands almost alone, at once, for truth, humour, 
and pathetic touches. 

" In A Life's Secret we have some very remarkable work in 
the way of character-study — the more that we now know that 
Mrs. Wood had never come into any personal relation with 
the class she there so effectively paints. 

" The life of the workmen at Hunter & Hunter's, the con- 
tractors, in their very contrasted types, are exhibited with 
fidelity, force, and the finest sense of dramatic effect. All the 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 295 

life of Daffodils Delight^ both in its brighter and shadier 
aspects, the low cunning and self-serving, fox-like pertinacity 
of some, the generous self-denial and unconscious heroism of 
others towards neighbours- in misfortune or in sickness ; the 
squalor, sly drunkenness, and vice on the part of some, and 
the patient well-doing and unpretending honesty and faithful- 
ness of others — all is pictured with the clearness and decision 
which one could have fancied only possible to close familiarity 
and daily observation. 

"The finest work, in this respect, is in the exhibition of 
what are the most unpleasant types in themselves — another 
proof of power. 

" Sam Shuck in his own way is unique ; the pattern of all 
the low, cunning strike-leaders that have been, or are to be, 
who, themselves inefficient and incompetent in work, or incur- 
ably lazy, would sacrifice the peace and happiness of neigh- 
bours for the sake of indulging, as long as they may, their love 
of fine clothes and good dinners, and posing as persons having 
influence and authority, whose *gift of the gab* and low 
cunning are their capital. 

"We wish we had space to give the picture of the first 
meeting of the workmen, with Sam Shuck's irresistible 
speeches, or the episode of Sam Shuck's defeat, when, dis- 
guised, he forms one of a party to maltreat the men who had 
gone back to work, and in which Austen Clay — a natural and 
consistent piece of portraiture from first to last — shows himself 
the better man. 

" The whole thing is relieved by the sketches of the Quales, 
the Baxendales, and a few others; and the pathetic -touches 



296 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

associated with Mary Baxendale and her mother are made the 
more effective from their unexpectedness, and the force of 
contrast with what is around and prevailing. Mary Baxendale 
is indeed a fine character, sketched in a spirit pf large sym- 
pathy ; and that episode of self-denial in the pawning of her 
one little bit of * fine art ' is indeed touching. And Mrs. Dunn 
— the eager supporter of Shuck in his first efforts, and his 
unyielding enemy in the end — is also good. * Ain't nine hours 
a day enough for the men to be at work ? ' she urges. * I can 
tell the Baxendales what — when weVe got the nine hours all 
straight and sure, we shall next demand eight — 'tain't freeborn 
Englishers as is going to be put upon. It'll be glorious times, 
girls, won't it ? 



> » 



In praising Mrs. Henry Wood's comprehension of a boy's 
life and character, Dr. Japp does her no less than justice. She 
was brought up in such an atmosphere : was constantly sur- 
rounded by college boys, and, in her quiet way — too delicate 
and sensitive to be actively amongst them — must have closely 
observed their characters and dispositions, grasped and com- 
prehended their very natures, many-sided as the nature of 
a school -boy is. / Out of this element was evolved Johnny 
/ Ludlow, with all his realism ; a character so true as life. Her 
own brothers were college boys, and constantly brought their 
friends to the house. Cyrus and Charley Baumgarten, sons of 
the Church dignitary, were their schoolfellows and companions ; 
they are not mere creations of the fancy, but actually lived, 
and were exactly as represented. The very incident to which 
the article refers was a true one, and if the conversation which 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 297 

ensues between the two boys did not actually take place, we 
can easily imagine that something of the sort did. 

In all this Mrs. Wood was only reproducing her own experi- 
ence; what she had observed, what she kneiv. And where 
actual experience was wanting, genius stepped in with its in- 
tuition and supplied the material. " How could you delineate 
that phase so accurately, you who have never passed through it?" 
Charlotte Bronte was once asked. " I don't know,'* she replied. 
" I thought about it morning after morning when I awoke, and 
at last it came to me. How it came I cannot tell." Julia 
Kavanagh once made a very similar remark to the writer. If 
in developing a story or constructing a plot she were some- 
times puzzled to know how such and such a character 
would act under certain conditions, or what would be the 
effect of a particular combination of circumstances in her 
drama, she let the matter lie fallow for a time in her brain. 
In the end, by some secret power or intuition, the right 
solution always came to her. But Julia Kavanagh was greater 
as an essayist than as a novelist. Pure and charming as 
her stories are, they, for the most part, lack that dramatic 
force and vigorous grasp of subject necessary to place all 
novels on " the shelf of the immortals." Yet would it be well 
if in these days many writers followed in her healthy and 
wholesome footsteps. 

The end of our task approaches. We have recorded the 
little we have to say about Mrs. Wood's literary life. In this 
matter her works are her best memorial, and in one sense 
can be her only memorial. For her life was so simple that, in 



398 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

point of literary detail or adventure, it consisted solely in the 
work she produced. Nothing about her was studied, nothing 
was done for efiect. Not a single word in any of her letters 
was ever inserted to "point a moral or adorn a tale." She 
kept nothing. Nearly all her MSS. and letters were destroyed ; 
everything as soon as its purpose was accomplished. What 
she had to say, she said simply, straightforwardly, concisely, 
with no digressions. Possibly in the earlier years it was 
different ; the years when Mrs. Wood's life was passed under 
Southern skies, and she sat on Alpine terraces listening to the 
song of the nightingales and writing poetry. In those days 
her letters may have been, and probably were, full of romance 
and imagination ; but we possess none of them. In the en- 
suing years, when all romance had died and the pen was taken 
up in earnest work, mind and strength were devoted to that 
object alone. In this also she was wise. 




CHAPTER XXV 



" Abiding with me till I sail 

To seek thee on the mystic deeps, 
And this electric force, that keeps 
A thousand pulses dancing, fail." 

After East Lynne 
was published there 
followed many years 
of earnest work, dur- 
ing which between 
thirty and forty books 
were wntten. They 
were years of quiet 
happiness, which 
Mrs Wood made a 
delight to those about 
her full of rest and 
repose, with no great 
sorrows or changes to 
Chaptkb-House, Wobcesteh Cathedral. remark their passing. 

Once or twice health gave way from overwork ; the brain 
needed rest, and home had to be left for absences of two or 




300 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

three months for change of scene and influence. At such 
times no remedy was ever so effectual as the fresh breezes of 
the Kentish coast. She never grew tired of watching the 
glorious sea and wonderful sunsets. The white cliffs of 
England charmed her. The winds that blew straight from 
the North Pole seemed charged with healing on their wings. 
The remedy never failed. Before long, vigour returned to the 
brain, elasticity to the step, animation to the countenance. 

But on one occasion she felt more seriously overworked 
than usual. It was at the time that she had begun to write 
The Master of Grey lands. The overstrain came on suddenly, 
and as the first portion had appeared it was impossible to 
give up, yet seemed equally impossible to go on. Sleepless 
nights threatened serious disorder, and the least effort caused 
them. 

What was to be done? Only absolute rest could be 
advised, and that was not to be taken. She decided to 
leave home, in spite of " the chilling blasts of January," 
and go down to her favourite coast — a better wintering 
place than is generally supposed. Here for three months she 
lived a quiet life of seclusion, writing only for an hour or an 
hour and a half every day, spending much time in looking 
upon the ebb and flow of the sea, which washed up very 
near to her windows. In the movement of the water there 
was something peculiarly restful to the brain ; it soothed the 
overstrained nerves, and induced the sleep that undue work 
had temporarily banished. Nothing ever delighted her like 
the sea ; she was never tired of watching its broad and ever- 
changing expanse. We have said that she was peculiarly 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 301 

susceptible to harmony of colour ; and the colours of the sea, 
changing from day to day with every passing cloud, the varying 
wind, fascinated her. So also with the sunsets — especially 
if they could be followed across the water. She would watch 
all the gorgeous effects with the keenest enjoyment and rever- 
ence, her thoughts ever filled, we may be sure, with the unseen 
glories beyond. The golden-tinted clouds turning to orange, 
with a background of sea-green sky ; the wonderful opaline only 
found in the north ; the pale blue graduating into the deeper 
purple. These were the things in nature that she most studied 
and loved ; sea and sky ; charmed by soft moonlight effects as 
much as by the brilliant sunsets. 

On the occasions we have mentioned she had left home 
somewhat depressed, thinking that in The Master of Greylands 
she had begun her last work ; fearing she might not perhaps 
finish even this. But at the end of three months she returned 
home restored, and never again suffered in the same way. 
Her health, however, was beginning to fail, though by im- 
perceptible degrees. The foundation for this seemed to be 
laid during one of these very absences from home. And on 
that occasion it was curious that she remarked to one of the 
many friends who had met her at the station to bid her good- 
bye: "I don't know why I am going away, for I never felt 
better in my life." Alas, it was the commencement of a long 
and last farewell. 

It happened that year on the Kentish coast that a quarrel 
took place between the lord of the manor and the contractor 
who removed the seaweed from the shore. In consequence of 
this the seaweed was left to decay, with deplorable results. 



302 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

Many in the town died from typhoid fever. Mrs. Wood, 
at all times peculiarly sensitive, ought immediately to have 
returned home ; but every hour was expected to end the quarrel, 
and she remained. At the end of ten days she was seized 
with a diphtheritic sore throat, and for a short time was 
dangerously ill. From the immediate effects of this she re- 
covered, but it appeared to have left such permanent influence 
upon her that she never again felt really well. 

She dated her decline from that hour. Once or twice after 
that she left home, though never again to visit Kent, for whose 
bracing air she had now become too delicate. Then came a 
time when home itself was never left. For some years before 
the end she never quitted even the house, though retaining 
quiet energy and. youth even to the last. She would receive 
and entertain her friends with as much pleasure and anima- 
tion as ever ; but strength was gradually diminishing. The 
spinal weakness was growing greater. Very soon she began 
to realise how great was that weakness ; how almost impossible 
she often found it to sit at the head of her table ; but even 
then she was not aware that the inward curvature was fatally 
pressing more and more upon the heart. This was only really 
known a few days before the end came. 

Though she never left the house, she was not ill, nor was 
she in any way considered an invalid; remaining at home 
more as a precaution than because she was not well enough 
to go out. She had become peculiarly susceptible to severe 
bronchial colds, which caused her so much suffering that she 
dreaded every fresh attack, from which she seemed to recover 
with more and more difficulty. At length to brave the air was 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 303 

impossible ; she had become too sensitive, and suffered from 
the slightest change of temperature. In this she resembled 
her father, who in the later years of his life — almost entirely 
passed in his study — was never without a fire, summer or 
winter, and scarcely ever ventured beyond his own rooms. 

Then came one Christmas Day which was to be for ever 
memorable — the Christmas of 1886. The previous day she 
had caught cold, and on Christmas Day, because it was Christmas 
Day, though feeling almost incapable of exertion, with the courage 
that had distinguished her through life, she came down to break- 
fast. She had seldom felt so ill, and it almost seemed as though 
a prevision that she had entered upon the beginning of the 
end was upon her. The habit had never been given up, when 
breakfasting with her children, of reading a -chapter aloud at 
the close of the meaL On this occasion two of them only 
were present, and she chose the 21st chapter of Revelation. 
She reached the fourth verse : " And God shall wipe away all 
tears from their eyes ; and there shall be no more death, 
neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more 
pain : for the former things are passed away." Here, and 
twice more during the chapter, she — the self-contained and 
the reliable — had to pause in order to retain her self-control. 
Even then she must have felt that for her " the former 
things had passed away.** Her last Christmas had dawned; 
soon her place would know her no more. She had had many 
previsions in life, and no doubt the sure knowledge of her 
approaching end came to her then. But she quietly closed 
the book and made no remark. 

All that day she kept up, and at night presided at her 



304 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

family dinner-party, courageously making no sign ; but at the 
end of the evening she murmured to one sitting near her : "I 
almost feel as if I were dying." Yet never had she looked 
more radiant A little later on, and with great difficulty, 
leaning on the arm of one of her sons, she reached her own 
room. The pressure upon the heart was making it almost im- 
possible to breathe — one of the most painful of all experiences. 
She was never to come down again. 

The next day she was unable to rise, and her doctor, who 
had attended her for many years and thoroughly understood 
her, was early at her bedside. Three days afterwards she 
had thrown off her cold in a wonderful manner, and seemed 
almost well again. Every one about her rejoiced ; so rapid a 
recovery had never been known, for her bronchial attacks would 
last for very many days and sometimes weeks. " It seems 
almost miraculous," she laughingly remarked. " I cannot 
understand it. If I did not feel so wonderfully well, I should 
say that something was going to happen. " Sadly prophetic words. 

Her doctor still wished her to keep her room, but she felt 
so well that she thought it unnecessary. She, however, agreed 
to remain on the same floor for a day or two, and occupy her 
study. 

The very next day she seemed a little less well, and every 
day a little and a little less well. The difficulty to breathe was 
great and caused much suffering, and added to this was a 
distressing cough which probably partly arose from heart- 
trouble. This continued until the first of February, and 
during that time, though she said little, her sufferings were 
extreme — the suffering of breathlessness and great exhaustion. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 305 

Yet even now a little work was done ; a few proofs were 
corrected for press, a few letters written ; she gave advice upon 
many matters ; talked and settled many of her affairs as one 
talks and settles who feels he has done with life. All 
was done with the greatest calmness and heroism. But the 
solemnity of the hour was seen in the expression of her eyes, 
which seemed to have gained a greater depth, an unspeak- 
able seriousness. Earth was passing ; she saw heaven opening. 
To such a mind and to such a life as hers the momentous 
issues would be realised to their utmost. She had ever 
dwelt much upon the thought of death, the awful hour of 
departure, when the long unknown journey has to be taken 
and the Dark Valley, with its shadow, lies immediately 
before us. Often when her children were young she was fond 
of gathering them around her, and of reading Sintram to them, 
a book she much loved. The translation of that day was far 
better than any that has since appeared. We still hear the 
echo of her sweet and serious voice as she repeated the verse — 

** My Lord and God, I pray, 
Turn from my heart away 

This world's turmoil : 
And call me to Thy Light, 
Be it through sorrow's night, 

Through pain or toil. " 



And again — 



** When death is drawing near. 
And thy heart shrinks in fear. 

And thy limbs fail : 
Lift up thy heart and pray 
To Him who leads the way 

Through the dark vale. " 

20 



306 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

In looking back upon her life, she one day remarked that 
it seemed to have passed as a flash ; it appeared but as yester- 
day that she was a child playing in her grandfather's home. 
Yet few lives had been more truly lived ; few had done 
more work, gone through greater trials. But the beauty 
of her nature, the purity and innocence of the years, un- 
burdened by regrets of conscience, of duties unfulfilled 
or time wasted, made the life at its end seem strangely 
short and fleeting. Not hers the reproach of talents wasted, 
but rather the result of the good steward : " Lord, Thou hast 
committed unto me five talents; behold, I have gained five 
talents more." And the award : " Well done, thou good and 
faithful servant ; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." 

This was now to be hers, and she might say with St. Paul : 
"I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course." 
She had "endured to the end." The good seed had not 
fallen on barren ground. Her faith was not to fail in the last 
trying hours. " I know in whom I have believed." " When 
thou passest through the waters I will be with thee : they 
shall not overwhelm thee." There was her consolation. Look 
well to the end had been one of the mottoes of her life ; and 
with the great Eastern King she had engraved upon her heart 
the warning : This also shall pass away. 

Much of these last days were spent alone in quiet thought 
and contemplation. She was too ill and suffering to converse 
very much, and insisted upon others not devoting very much 
time to the tedium of an invalid's room. Through life she 
had thought of others; always others, never self. 

It had been the custom to have a family dinner-party 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 307 

every year on her birthday — the 17th of January. But on 
this occasion, for the first time, it had to be postponed One 
of her last letters was written to a son — who soon followed 
her to the Silent Land — telling him that she was too ill to join 
in the usual gathering, but hoping before very long to be well 
enough to come down and take her place amongst them again. 
It was not to be; and probably a voice was telling her 
even then that it never would be. No doubt she was so 
bravely meeting the end not only for her own sake, but for the 
sake of those around her. She could not help realising that 
their loss must be an endless sorrow. It was indeed already 
as a two-edged sword. Already the Shadow was upon the 
house, and steps went softly and voices were hushed ; a fact 
was being slowly realised none dare look upon, and would not 
whisper even to each other. 

A whole month passed thus ; the month of January. Every 
day a change for the better was hoped for, and every day 
seemed to bring a slight change for the worse. Much of 
that month, we have said, was spent alone. How the past must 
have been dwelt upon — for her unfailing memory could carry 
her through almost every incident of her life. In nothing was 
her memory more remarkable than in this wonderful power of 
being able to trace out its events literally almost day by day. 

It almost seemed that approaching departure had 
added a keenness to her vision; as the mortal receded, the 
spiritual and the intellectual grew brighter, as though the 
loosening bands of earth made higher flight possible. All 
her soul,- we have said, seemed in her eyes, all the intensity of 
her nature to concentrate itself in her expression. Every time 



3o8 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

one near and dear to her entered her study there went forth a 
yearning gaze which spoke silently of the agony of approach- 
ing separation, but nothing was said. Life is sad ; we all travel 
on the same road, which has a parting and a solitary journey 
at the end ; sooner or later the " rending asunder " must needs 
come. 

The days of that darkened January went slowly on, 
bringing no relief or consolation. Her birthday was spent in 
the quietude of her study. Seventy-three times had the sun 
risen and set for her on that day, and it had set for the last 
time. But even yet this was not known. Whilst there was life, 
hope could never be given up. The days went on, and she 
kept up bravely, day by day suffering more and more from 
weakness and difficulty of breathing. She would not give in, 
though the illness was asserting itself more firmly and 
fatally. At length, on the 31st of January, she felt that she 
could battle no longer, and remarked to her doctor that she 
would return to bed for a few days. Though she did not say 
so, she must have felt that the end was approaching. A con- 
sultation was desired. " It is useless," she replied, " nothing 
can be done." But to please those about her she yielded. 
Then, for the first time, the mischief was explained. Her 
own doctor had known it but kept silence. The spine pressing 
upon the heart prevented its working, and there could be but 
one termination. This might yet be delayed, but the end 
must come. 

And now every day there was a decided change for the 
worse. She still sat up part of the day, but it was pain and 
grief to her. The suffering from exhaustion was intense. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 309 

though the breathlessness had been mercifully removed. 
These days were borne with the utmost fortitude and patience. 
She, who had ever thought for others, had now to be the 
constant care of others. Frequent were her expressions of 
gratitude, whilst the hearts of those about her ached because 
they could do so little ; repeated her words of thankfulness for 
the mercies with which Heaven had surrounded her, and which 
were rendering less painful these last days of intense suffering. 

Through all she never lost her youthful look, her beauty 
and radiant complexion. Never had she looked better or 
appeared mentally brighter. It seemed impossible that death 
could be so near; almost impossible that death could ever be 
near. 

On the Saturday evening she received the last rites of the 
Church, and from that moment no doubt felt that she had 
done with earth. Her faith seemed to shine more and more 
brightly to the end. There was no. wavering. Steadfast as 
she had lived, so she remained in the trying hours of the close. 
Her clergyman, who saw her only on the occasion of adminis- 
tering the sacrament, afterwards spoke from the pulpit of her 
wonderful calmness and serenity, the brave manner in which 
she awaited the awful moment. After that memorial sermon 
the Dead March in " Saul " was played, and the congregation 
remained standing to the end. 

On the last Sunday night of all she again sat up, and 
never had looked more herself. She conversed in her 
quiet tones, and for the sake of those about her wondered 
if she might yet recover for a time. She spoke upon 
many topics : amongst others of a book which had lately 



3IO MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

appeared, and created some sensation, saying that had she 
been in her usual health, she should have wished to read it ; 
asking for some of its points to be described to her. 

Then presently she referred calmly to her approaching end, 
and with unwavering voice gave directions as to the plainness 
and simplicity of the last ceremony of all. The very tomb 
was discussed, and one asked her whether, if it were possible, 
the husband, who had died many years before, might be 
removed to another vault. "I leave you to do exactly as 
you like in all ways," was her quiet reply. Her eyes never 
dimmed, her glance spoke of a peace not of this world. The 
heroism that had been with her through life remained with 
her in death. 

On the Monday morning there appeared a great change for 
the worse. For a short time she thought the immediate end 
was at hand. Then came a slight rally, and she revived. But 
it was evident that the time could not be prolonged. Yet 
again that day she rose for a time with all her wonted bravery, 
and sat and talked in her easy -chair to those about her, 
but everything indicated that the end was approaching. 

That last day was one of great suffering and exhaustion ; 
but again she rose towards evening and sat up for an hour. 
On returning to bed, she felt the effort had been too great ; 
and she said to one of her sons, when he entered the room : 
"It is nearly over." Then added, after a pause : " The end 
must come for us all." 

A little later on, speaking of her past work and life, she 
remarked: "I once thought of writing the experiences of a 
governess in the same manner that I have written Johnny 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 311 

Ludlow, I am quite sure they would have been very popular. 
But it is all over — all over." 

Again, later, she said to one very near and dear to her, who 
was sitting beside her in the sorrow which makes no sign : 
"It is nearly over." "Life is short," was the reply; "we 
shall soon come to you." "Oh, yes, yes," she fervently 
answered. " Only do your best — in all ways," she added, with 
intense earnestness. The last sentence she ever spoke to 
him was a prayer for God's blessing. After that all seemed 
over in this world. 

Always thoughtful for others, she insisted that no one should 
sit up with her that night, showing in this her wonderful 
courage and self-reliance, for it was equivalent to meeting 
death alone ; she must have felt and known there would be 
no next morning for her. 

But, unknown to her, her maid remained in an adjoining 
room, accompanied by a nurse who had that day been sent in 
by her doctor. If she needed anything in the night she 
had promised to ring, but when the end was at hand the 
power to ring had departed. In the night, her maid went in 
quietly, and saw that the great Change was approaching. She 
could no longer speak, but the beautiful eyes were still 
full of expression, full of thought, realising and saying as 
plainly as eyes could indicate that the supreme moment was at 
hand. 

All were hastily summoned to the presence they would 
never have left but at her expressed wish and command 
When one entered the room who had been so intimately 
associated with her in work and companionship throughout 



3i» MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

life, the eyes were closed, never again to open in this world. 
But life was still there, and consciousness as great as ever, 
and with her hand in his, the awful moments passed until 
the pure and beautiful spirit had winged its flight, and time 
was swallowed up in eternity. 

At the very last instant she made a movement of the head, 
as full of intelligence and consciousness as at any time of her 
life ; and though unable to make any sign, it was evident that 
she knew all that was taking place, and those who were 
present. On Wednesday morning, the loth of February 1887, 
about half-past three, she passed away. And upon those who 
watched there fell a sorrow that would never cease. Well for 
all that 

' ' Far out of sight, while sorrow still enfolds us. 
Lies the fair countiy where our hearts abide." 




CHAPTER XXVI 

t in my spirit will I dwell, 

And dream my dream and hold it tiue ; 

Fo ho gh my I'p may brea he adieu, 
arm h nk he h ng a e 



To the world the 
death of Mrs. Henry 
Wood came as a 
surprise. Her illness 
had not been re- 
ported, and it was 
but little known that 
the pen had ^en 
for ever from the 
hand that had done 
so much good and 
earnest work. 

Here, as in every- 
thing else in life, she 
was simple and un- 
obtrusive. At all times she disliked any personal attention. 
To have appeared in public or faced a crowd, this would ever 




314 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

have been impossible. She would read with wonder of 
ladies who attended meetings and addressed multitudes from a 
platform. She loved a domestic life, to be surrounded by 
friends, to extend her hospitalities and shed happiness abroad. 
But from contact with the outer world she shrank with the 
sensitiveness of extreme refinement and physical helplessness. 
And so when she became ill, and hope gradually passed away, 
she would allow only her most intimate friends to be made 
aware of the truth. In like manner she expressed a wish that 
her funeral should be as simple and quiet as possible, so that 
the end of all should not be inconsistent with her life. Her 
wishes were regarded ; but things cannot be kept secret, and 
both in the church of St. Stephen's and at the cemetery a 
crowd had assembled to pay their last respects to one whom 
in life, whether they knew her personally or not, they had 
loved. 

From public and private sources came innumerable notices 
and regrets, and amongst the former none gave greater pleasure 
than the following lines. We quote them because they were 
so true, so full of appreciation : the unknown writer earning 
the gratitude of hearts bowed down. 

" Novelists like Mrs. Henry Wood should never die. We 
miss them too much — miss them particularly at the present 
moment, when the art of fiction -writing is on the decline, 
when novelists appear to think that the breaking and patching 
up again of the Seventh Commandment is the be-all and end- 
all of domestic romance and story- telling. A quarter of a 
century has passed since the world, rushing to the libraries in 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 315 

search of East Lynne^ declared to Mrs. Henry Wood that she 
had become famous. Nor has the verdict ever been 
reversed. The book is read as freely and as generally 
to-day as it was a decade ago. Its theme has been 
parodied a thousand times. Its plot has given good material 
for minor novelists to spoil. The story has been prepared for 
the stage by more dramatists than one ; but with regard to this 
latter, the author has gained not one shilling. Of this wide 
and vexed question, however, it is not now our intention 
to speak. We do not wish to dilate upon a writer whose 
brains have been robbed so that other people might become 
rich. We have quite enough in hand when we are driven to 
contemplate the fact that one of the most prolific, and at the 
same time most delightful of novelists has been removed. 
For Mrs. Henry Wood was an active, a zealous, and an 
industrious worker in the field of literature. She was more 
than that — she was an ornament to it. The pure and whole- 
some tones and textures of her many books all proclaim that 
by her death literature has lost a counterfoil to that baser form 
of modern writing which seeks not the advancement of noble 
thought, but the mental gratification of aimless and senseless 
passions. 

" As to the work achieved by Mrs. Henry Wood, the record 
is a long but dignified one. If all her novels — and they 
number over thirty — were not of equal merit, she only proved 
that it is impossible for a writer to be always at his or her best. 
Her earlier work appeared in periodicals which she had out- 
lived. Her connection with it made that popular magazine 
the Argosy. Her sketches by Johnny Ludlow will remain in 



3i6 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

popular favour, just as her novels will be inquired for when 
generations have passed away. 

"We do not propose now to analyse the methods which 
as a weaver of fiction Mrs. Henry Wood adopted. We 
are content to admit their great and lasting success. It 
is perhaps because, when what we know as sensation creeps 
into them, the sensation is always of a homely and domestic 
kind. There is much that is strongly dramatic in what Mrs. 
Henry Wood has written, but the dramatic incidents and 
effects, if they surprise and interest, never terrify. Readers 
do not rush for a volume by Mrs. Henry Wood if they wish to 
be terribly frightened. The skilful manipulation of plot may 
amaze, but it does not quicken morbid desires nor heighten 
unworthy passion. Novels that do this seldom live. They are 
written to meet the whims and caprices of a given age, in 
which, perhaps, a certain taint of indelicacy has got the 
upper hand in the minds of the more frivolous of men 
and women. The novels of Mrs. Henry Wood have been 
suited to the tastes of the past, and they will be found suitable 
to the cravings of the future. To the regular and inveterate 
novel-reader the death of Mrs. Henry Wood will raise many a 
sorrow and regret. We do not like to know that the pen 
which has instructed and amused us so often is to weave no 
more garlands of homely story for us. Such novels as we have 
been alluding to become our companions. The characters in 
them become living pictures in that gallery of life in which we 
walk and muse. These pictures may age and become im- 
mortal, but we would fain believe that their creator was immortal 
as well. But this cannot be, and the best tribute, therefore, 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 317 

we can pay the dead novelist is to remember and revere 
her in the graceful works she has bequeathed to us and to 
posterity." 

It was a true and graceful recognition of a writer who had 
passed away, of work well done. 

One of the principal daily papers, in a leading article, made 
the following remarks : 

" Mrs. Henry Wood, whose death is announced this morn- 
ing, was one of the most voluminous and the most successful 
of modern novelists. She commenced her literary career under 
the care of the House of Bentley, and unlike the average 
successful novelist, from Dickens downwards, who beats about 
for fuller advantage with new publishers, the connection 
between author and publisher remained undisturbed to the 
last. . . . 

" When East Lynne appeared, the new novelist's reputation 
was at once established. An enormous number of the work 
has been sold. It has been translated into all Continental 
languages and some Oriental ones. But this is only one branch 
of the success the story has attained. It was at an early date 
adapted to the stage, where its success was almost equal to that 
attained in book form. At the present time there are three 
dramatic versions of East Lynne nightly presented to the 
English-speaking public in various parts of the world. Had 
the author been granted even a small percentage on the 
returns, she would have been a rich woman. We believe that 
as a matter of fact she never received during the past quarter 
of a century a single penny in acknowledgment of the profits 
made by others from the stage presentation of East Lynne, 



3i8 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

The adapters of East Lynne grew rich, and Mrs. Henry Wood 
was kept out of their calculations. 

" Since the appearance of East Lynne ^ Mrs. Henry Wood has 
written some thirty novels, which have varied only in the 
measure of success. In Australia the sale of her works Ivies 
with that of Charles Dickens's books." [It has since exceeded 
them.] " Hers was indeed a busy and a happy life. The pen 
fell from her hand only in the last days of failing strength. 
Up to the last her mental activity withstood the insidious 
approaches of growing physical weakness. Unlike Dickens 
and Thackeray, Mrs. Henry Wood leaves no unfinished work 
behind. . . . Like most authors whose names are prominently 
before the public, Mrs. Henry Wood had an enormous corre- 
spondence with literary aspirants. Young authors turned in- 
stinctively to her for advice and counsel, and seldom turned 
in vain. . . . Like her life, her end was placid and full 
of hope." 

A week later the same newspaper had the following record 
of her funeral : 

" In the bright sunshine of yesterday forenoon, a procession 
which attracted general attention, and evoked much sympathy 
and manifestations of respect, passed by the northern boundary 
of Regent's Park, up the main road to Highgate Cemetery. The 
procession consisted of sixteen carriages, and its character was 
proclaimed by that which came first. This was an open funeral 
car, drawn by four black horses ; and the polished oak coffin, 
with its massive brass mountings, was heaped up with fragrant 
wreaths of choice hot-house flowers, mostly snow-white, and 
set about with delicate ferns. These memorial offerings of 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 319 

sorrowing friends not only covered the coffin, but were piled 
up on either side to the lid, and hung upon the pinnacles of the 
hearse roof. Bystanders uncovered as this procession passed 
along, and the response to the oft -repeated questions whis- 
pered from house to pavement was always the same — *It is 
Mrs. Henry Wood, the novelist.* * I never saw such a sight,' 
said one working man to another, uncovering as the procession 
passed them. 

" The funeral was, of course, of a private character ; but it 
attracted almost as much attention as if it had been a public 
ceremony with time and place of burial duly announced 
beforehand. The procession left the deceased lady's residence 
about a quarter past eleven, and halted at St. Stephen's 
Church, Avenue Road, where a considerable congregation was 
already assembled. . . . From the church the procession pro- 
ceeded direct to the Upper Highgate Cemetery, and to the 
grave-side . . . and the service was concluded in the presence 
of a large concourse of people who had awaited the arrival of 
the cortege. 

"The vaulted grave had been newly formed out of the 
turfed space edging the outer circle of catacombs at the very 
highest point of the cemetery grounds, and at the foot, there- 
fore, of Highgate Church. Into the tomb, within a few hours, 
had been lowered the coffin, exhumed from its original grave 
and enclosed in a new coffin of polished oak, of Mr. Henry 
Wood, husband of the lady who was now to be laid by his 
side ; and large floral wreaths had been placed upon this 
coffin before the arrival of its companion. A superb cross, 
composed entirely of Neapolitan violets and lilies of the valley. 



320 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

hid the plate upon Mrs. Henry Wood*s coffin, and smaller 
wreaths obscured the text upon the brass scroll : * / am the 
Resurrection and the Life^ saith the LordJ The inscription 
upon the breastplate was simply the name, date of birth, 
17th January 1814, and of death, loth February 1887. The 
scores of floral wreaths sent by literary and other friends 
were arranged and left upon the heavy stone slab, which, 
at the conclusion of the service, and in the presence of 
the principal mourners, was rolled to its place, covering the 
vault.'' 

The day of the funeral seemed indeed to have been made 
purposely bright and beautiful; one of the fairest and 
warmest days that ever dawned in February. The previous 
days had been gloomy and cloudy, bitterly cold; the day 
after and many succeeding days were equally cold and gloomy. 
But the day itself was soft, sunny, and seemed a reflection 
of the bright spirit that had inhabited the lovely earthly 
tenement now for ever laid to rest. 

The tomb eventually chosen was of red granite, from 
the quarries of Aberdeen, and was a copy of the tomb of 
Scipio Africanus in Rome. The lives of both had one thing 
in common : they were earnestly and unceasingly devoted to 
good purposes, and both had the welfare of mankind at heart. 
On the front of the tomb was engraven simply the name, Mrs. 
Henry Wood ; beneath, the short text from Ecclesiasticus : 
"THE LORD GIVETH WISDOM." Never was text more 
fittingly applied, for surely wisdom of every description she 
possessed. None were so certain of this as they who knew her 




■"■Tm#f •^' tix ii'# 



i. 



; 






U 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 321 

most intimately, whose companion and counsellor she had 
been for many long years. 

Innumerable were the expressions of sorrow and regret from 
private sources ; from old and tried friends, and from unknown 
sympathisers. All who had known her bore witness to 
the influence of her singular charm and goodness. The 
following are a few extracts taken almost at random from 
a multitude of letters. Many are from friends whose names 
are household words in the land, and not a few from those 
who had never known her in life. 



" The painful intelligence met me yesterday afternoon, and 
while I felt the consolation of knowing that suffering had ceased, 
and that her truly lovely and lovable spirit had entered into 
the joy of her Lord, I was deeply saddened by the somewhat 
selfish consciousness that I and mine and the world at large 
had lost a benefactor and a friend — of which class we have 
none of us too many. . . . The blessed * memory of the 
just ' will be your stay and support through this bitter trial — 
the latter will lose much of its bitterness as time rolls — the 
former will be lasting as life itself." 

" I almost hesitate to break in upon your sorrow, yet feel 
it not possible to keep silence. . . . The separation must be 
bitter indeed. . . . That she has passed to an eternity of 
happiness I believe with all my heart, and though it is im- 
possible to find even in this thought consolation for some time 

21 



322 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

to come, yet hereafter this will soften this great grief. . . . 
The loss you have sustained is not to be supplied, and must 
leave a void, and remove from you, as you say, much of the 
sunshine of your lives. . . . Instinctively I felt it would be 
so, for she was no ordinary woman. She was so vividly alive, 
and so sympathetic, so large-hearted as well as large-minded, 
that her loss to her children must be felt as irreparable. To 
you, too, is added the literary companionship, which I know 
sweetened your work, and often alone made it bearable. I 
heartily sympathise with you, especially in this last phase. 
If at such a time I may speak of myself, I like to recall 
that in a quarter of a century, in which I have had relations 
with your dear mother, no incident has occurred, not the 
most trivial, to dim my happy recollections of her. She was 
always the same to me. Such friends are not replaced, and 
we go through the rest of life in somewhat of diminished 
pleasure. ..." 

Again, later on, the same writer : "I have read with great 
interest your sketch of your mother; and can read between 
the lines how completely the face of things is altered to you 
now she is withdrawn. She was a very notable woman ; one of 
those who help to keep England in her straight path of truth ; 
and she was a very kind woman, with a large charity, without 
any of that weak indifference which sometimes passes for liberal- 
ity of opinion. I was always much struck with a certain spirited 
decision upon any point on which she was questioned. She 
seemed able to bring her faculties together immediately, and 
focus them on the question before her, and to have a clear 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 323 

insight into the bearings of anything brought before her. . . . 
One thing astonished me — her age. Seventy-three ! but that I 
know you know, I should be incredulous." 

" Will you allow me to add the expression — which, though 
tardily uttered, is none the less as entirely genuine as any of 
the numberless similar indications which you have, no doubt, 
ere this from every side received — the expression of my deep 
sympathy with you in the bereavement which not only you, 
but the world of letters generally has sustained, in the death of 
your illustrious mother. She was, in many senses of the word, 
one of our greatest English women." 

" I feel for you so much : the loss is dreadful ! such a 
mother — such an interchange of thought and work : where 
shall we find a parallel ? " 

" We are deeply indebted to your kindness for affording us 
the opportunity of testifying our loving regard to one of our 
best, oldest, and most beloved friends — whom to know was to 
admire and esteem. . . . Alas ! to-day we visit the tomb of 
our friends, and to-morrow others visit ours. The bereave- 
ment deprives me of a friend whom I can never replace — but 
to you, how vast the loss ! Happily, our still living though 
unseen friend, when dwelling among us, added largely to the 
mental pleasures of mankind, and by a felicitous gift of more 
than earthly wisdom, uttered truths never to be forgotten. 
May this Christian lady now know in its grand and compre- 
hensive sense what it is to be a member of the household of 



324 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

faith, and heir to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, 
that passeth not away."- 

Sent to the writer by a friend abroad on the day of Mrs. 
Henry Wood's death, but without knowing even of her illness : 

" For the past fortnight your image has been floating 
before me, awake or asleep. I seemed to see a sad and 
marred face, and unable to wait any longer, I wrote to Miss 
Anne Beale for news. Only last night I was preaching of 
sorrow and sadness, our need of comfort, from the words: 
^The God of all consolation^ and suddenly you flashed into my 
mind, and I had to thrust you back to finish my sermon." 

" I have some hesitation in writing to you now when your 
heart and your head are alike so painfully occupied, but I can- 
not feel satisfied until I have thanked you for your most kind 
letter, which has touched me more than I can express. I 
need not say how grateful I am for the regard in which I was 
held by your good and admirable mother, nor how sincerely I 
reciprocated her affectionate friendship. Although we met 
seldom of late years, since the death of Mr. Wills, I think it 
was understood that there was no diminution of kindly feeling 
for, or of faith in, each other; and now I can only deplore 
the loss of a most dear and most sincere friend. . . . To 
you the loss is irreparable ; your consolation must be in 
the influence for good your mother has left behind her, and 
in the pride you must feel in her name, which is loved 
and honoured throughout the world. That is something 
for children to cherish in a parent ; and although now it may 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 325 

make your sorrow more acute, it will be an abiding solace to 
you in the future, which now looks sad and desolate." 

" We have heard, with great sorrow for you, of the irrepar- 
able loss you are now suffering. I do not know anything I 
can say that could comfort you ; but I pray that the consola- 
tions of God may be great towards you. We, too, have been 
lately brought face to face with the great mystery, for three 
months ago my eldest sister died suddenly — never speaking 
after the first stroke fell. If we had not hope in Christ beyond 
this life, we should be indeed most sorrowful. But I believe 
that all is well for us and them." 

" May God give you strength to go through with your 
life. None can ever know your dear mother without having a 
very strong affection for her. She was so far above all other 
women." 

" You will hardly believe that until yesterday I never even 
heard of your great loss and grief. I have myself, for exactly 
one month, been through great desolation and trouble; for 
my dear old aunt, my companion and more than mother, died 
on the 1 7 th of January after a few days' illness. Since then I 
have lived in a sort of a maze, unable to fix my mind on any 
reading — even of the daily paper, which would have informed 
me of so great a public loss as your private grief entails. I 
am so very distressed and sorry for you. . . . My dear aunt, 
to the very end — as with my uncle and adopted father — did 
so delight in all and everything your mother wrote. Her name 



326 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

was a passport and a household word, and the magazine or 
book containing anything of hers must be had at any price — 
even if money was scarce. Of late she was growing deaf, and 
found it hard to gather all of a story read aloud ; but it became 
almost a jest that no word of any story by Mrs. Henry Wood 
was ever lost. She listened with avidity to the first part of 
Lady Grace^ and was sorry she should never read the second 
number. The Argosy must indeed droop her colours and 
take in ballast now." 

"... I cannot realise that in this world I shall never 
again see that kind, calm, beautiful face, with its marvellous 
bloom and serenity. Nor can I realise what her removal must 
be to your circle, in which she had such a special headship. But 
think of the happy life ... a great blessing of work and success 
and love and honour and dutifulness. Of her we may truly 
quote the words of Thomas ^ Kempis : * Blessed is she that 
hath lived well and ended happily ! ' Yet I know well that 
none of you will feel the orphanhood the less, because it 
overtakes you in the heat of life's mid-day; and you have 
to go on living without the love and wisdom that has never 
failed you before for all these years. . . . Only God 
remains. That is the sole Comfort, after all. And He who 
spared her to you for so long is still keeping her for 
you." 

" It is seldom a mother has to be mourned at once so 
good and so gifted. To you — having been so long and 
so closely associated with her in her work — the bereavement 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 327 

must be doubly great. But in the midst of grief there is the 

« 

consolation of a. beautiful memory, and while the one becomes 
softened by time, the other lasts, interweaving itself with the 
hope of reunion." 

"The loss of such a mother must indeed be a terril^le 
grief to you, and your sorrow will be shared, not only by 
friends and acquaintances, but by the world-wide circle of 
readers to whom Mrs. Henry Wood's delightful books have 
endeared her. . . . Many will feel as if they had lost a 
personal friend — particularly the readers of the Argosy^ who 
had just welcomed a new work from her pen, showing all the 
old freshness of charm and style. . . . Even in the midst of 
your grief it must be a pride and satisfaction to you to know 
how universally she was admired and esteemed, not only for 
her great talents, but for the pure and elevated spirit which 
breathes in all her works, and gives them a lasting influence 
for good." 

"Most truly she deserved all praise, not only as a writer 
but as an exemplary good woman in every phase of her life. 
Although of late years we saw so little of each other, I truly 
loved her. Her large charitable heart was ever ready to 
relieve and sympathise with those in trouble. She will indeed 
be missed and lamented by many who, unknown to the world, 
have been succoured in their hour of need. Oh, in the 
depth of your great sorrow, you have the remembrance of her 
unfailing goodness to assure you that her pure spirit is now 
receiving its reward." 



328 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

" Perhaps no word of mine can possibly lighten the weight 
of your sorrow. . . . Your loss, however, is a public calamity 
as well as a private grief, and as one amongst the many 
thousands of admirers of East Lynne^ I offer you my tribute 
of regret." 

"I have felt the deepest sympathy with you, and now 
can think of nothing but the great happiness I have often 
witnessed in your family. ... I really loved her, and it 
has often afforded my wife and myself no little pleasure and 
pride in being numbered amongst her many friends. . . . 
We have frequently spoken of the close ties existing between 
your mother and yourself, and amongst the other members 
of the family circle, and expressed a hope that our children 
might grow up to regard us with the same affection, and 
that we might be equally deserving of it.'' 

" We see with a sentiment of deep sympathy that your dear 
mother has just now passed on to the higher life. A happiness 
for her, but yet a sorrow to all who loved and esteemed her, 
and they were numberless. The Divine Mercy still spares me 
on earth, but one by one my old friends and co-labourers in 
the fields of literature pass on to receive their reward — and in 
this case it will be great, for she had always a high and noble 
purpose in view. I have now been so many years absent 
from England, that my friends may have forgotten me, or 
might naturally suspect that Mary Howitt was one of the 
departed. But no one of my friends has been forgotten by 
me; and all who knew me, or have any knowledge of my 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 329 

former life, have known more or less of your excellent mother 
through my description of her wonderful powers of mind, 
industry, and success. . . . She was indeed a very remark- 
able woman from her unwearied and unwearying activity of 
mind and her boundless power of imagination. And no less 
remarkable, if not more so, was the fact of her retaining to the 
last that marvellous delicacy and refinement of feature and 
complexion which appears to have been the characteristic of 
her youth." 

"You have sustained a loss which nothing in this world 
can ever replace ; that of a good mother ; of whom, though 
your future memories may and will be more or less sad and 
painful, yet they will be rendered less bitter by the sentiments 
of love, esteem, and honour with which all thoughts of her 
whom you have lost must ever be connected. Compared 
with your loss mine is as nothing, yet to me it is very great 
and irreparable. ... I have known you and yours now for 
nearly twenty years, and during the whole of that time, as you 
are well aware, have been invariably treated with nothing but 
kindness by your late mother ; indeed kindness is a very weak 
word to express my sense of Mrs. Henry Wood's treatment of 
myself. Her house I have ever regarded as a second home, 
where I always felt sure of a welcome and of real sympathy. 
The thought that one of such superior attainments and 
who held so prominent a place in the world's regard, and of 
such sterling worth, should so regard me, has ever been to me 
very precious, though humbling, as knowing how far I fell 
short of deserving her kindly regard. She has now passed 



330 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

into the light, but though here I shall see her no more, I am 
sure that the remembrance of her will be an influence of 
guidance and comfort as long as I live." 

" It is not from carelessness for the loss you, and, in a 
different way, all England, have sustained, that I have re- 
frained from writing my sincere condolences. I feared to 
intrude in the early days of so great and irreparable grief. We 
all felt on reading the sad announcement of your noble mother's 
death, that we top had lost a true friend, and that one more 
of the gifted ones of earth had gone to reap the reward of a 
life of patient, constant, self-denying work, and of unwavering 
goodness. I think that Mrs. Henry Wood's life is a true and 
abiding lesson." 

'* At the risk of intruding as a stranger on holy ground, I 
write to express my sympathy with you in a loss which I am 
sure you will feel acutely. The setting sun leaves always a 
darkness behind it, but when it sets in crimson glory the 
gloom is relieved by a sense of thankfulness which I am sure 
you will feel." 

" If it is any comfort that many mourn with you, you must 
surely have it, for it was impossible not to love her through 
yhat she wrote, and to many all over the world this sad news 
has brought, I know, a heartfelt sorrow and regret. Never 
can I forget the kindness she has shown me for over ten years, 
and there was something so lovable and natural in her letters, 
that, aided by my sister's description of her charm and beauty. 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 331 

I seemed to know her better than many met face to face. 
Seldom indeed are such talents combined with such sweet and 
feminine goodness, and we know what great comfort there 
must be for you in the thought. How strangely and beautifully 
applicable is now all she wrote of death, with such trust, 
serenity, and warmth of feeling, in the Argosy pages of this 
very month ! We thought of it immediately, and how much 
more must you have done so. . . . The loss of one so gifted 
and so good must leave a- blank not to be filled in this world, 
though submitted to in sure and certain hope of reunion in 
a better." 

" From the bottom of my heart I feel that I have lost a 
dear friend. All Mrs. Henry Wood's works are equally well 
known to me, have been my companions. They have cheered 
and amused me in many a dark hour of sickness and of trouble 
as nothing else could — so it is small wonder that I love the 
books, and feel grateful to the *dead hand.' Forgive me — a 
stranger — for venturing to write to you at this sorrowful time." 

"Though a stranger to us all, none of us ever having even 
seen her, yet we all loved her, and feel as if we had lost a 
personal friend. Her books have been a constant source of 
interest, instruction, and delight to us. We have read and 
re-read them, each time seeing fresh beauties in them, for 
she had that wonderful power of making all her characters 
absolutely real and lifelike. . . . About two years ago I wrote 
to Mrs. Henry Wood telling her what a pleasure and comfort 
her books had been to me. In return she sent me a charming 



332 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

letter, which I keep amongst my greatest treasures. . . . For- 
give the liberty a stranger has taken in writing to you." 

" I pray you to pardon the liberty I take in writing to you, 
but the deep love and admiration I have for Mrs. Henry Wood's 
works is my excuse. I am only the wife of a working man, 
and therefore not able to express myself so well as my betters ; 
but we many of us so long to know if there is any hope for Mrs. 
Henry Wood's works being published at a price to place them 
within reach of the working classes — so many desire to have 
them. . . . And in these days, when there are so many atheists 
and socialists, there is a great need for good books. Perhaps you 
will allow me to say that only one other author claims my love 
and reverence as Mrs. Henry Wood does, and that is Dickens ; 
but his works are well within our reach, whilst of Mrs. Henry 
Wood's I have only been able to buy two. After the day's 
work — often with trouble and care — nothing rests me so much 
as a little reading ; and though I love Dickens very much, yet 
Mrs. Henry Wood is like an effervescing draught. Every 
sentence is delightful and refreshes one, whilst the characters 
are so real and lifelike that one sorrows and rejoices with them 
as with friends we have known. Please pardon my writing, and 
believe me that, though far apart in station, and total strangers, 
the death of Mrs. Henry Wood is sincerely mourned by 
thousands among the working classes, and by none of them 
more than your respectful servant, M. S." 

" May I, a stranger, be allowed to offer you my profound 
and sincere sympathy in a loss so great that only those who 
have experienced something of the same loss can understand 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 333 

it. When I read of Mrs. Henry Wood's death, I felt as though 
I had parted with a friendr All her beautiful writings are 
familiar to me, some very, very much so. I shall never forget 
how EastLynne impressed me. For long after I used to dream 
of its author and feast my imagination upon her, wondering and 
speculating upon many things. Indeed, it was impossible for 
me to read any of her books without the wish ever coming over 
me that I might see her and speak with her. I am so sure 
she must have been all you have written about her, for it is 
impossible to read her books without feeling that they are 
written by a most loving and deeply religious woman. I could 
never go to Malvern or Worcester, but Mrs. Henry Wood came 
most vividly to my mind. Her presence seemed ever)rwhere : 
in the Cathedral, in the cloisters, passing up the thoroughfares, 
by the banks of the Severn — everywhere. So, sir, if it be any 
comfort to you to know that the outside world has a deep feel- 
ing of sympathy with you and yours, then you have it; for 
though unknown, we are all brethren, and all members of one 
great household. I trust you may not think it intrusive in a 
stranger thus writing to you, and will allow the great respect and 
love for the dead to plead my excuse." 

The following impressions are the slight record of a friend 
who knew Mrs. Henry Wood for many years ; one who had 
laboured long in the ministry in a London parish, had come 
into contact with all sorts and conditions of men, and had seen 
human nature in all its phases. They are inserted because 
they form an impartial and separate testimony to much that 
has already been affirmed in these pages. 



334 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

"The task of giving some expression of my ideas and 
sentiments of the late Mrs. Henry Wood is not very easy, for 
the simple reason that though her character was as far removed 
from being commonplace as her writings were from ordinary 
productions, yet her nature was so retiring and her ways so 
devoid of self-assertion, that neither in what she said nor in 
what she did was there anything sufficiently prominent to 
challenge special attention. 

" In the times of early acquaintance the gifted authoress 
was lost sight of in the presence of the courteous lady and 
hostess, who with the tact that comes from good breeding and 
a kindly nature put you at your ease and showed you, though 
without ostentation, that her desire was to please you. 

"A closer intimacy revealed other characteristics. I had 
known Mrs. Henry Wood through her writings for many years 
— fifteen or sixteen — before I knew her personally. I was then 
struck with the identity between herself and her works ; what 
the books were in their aims and principles, such was the 
writer. The devotion to duty, the high sense of responsibility, 
the rectitude of purpose, the benevolence and goodness which 
form true life, and the inseparableness of them all from sincere 
but unaffected religion, which have so conspicuous a place in 
all she ever wrote, equally appeared in herself. It was — such 
at least is my opinion — that because she was what she was in 
these respects, she produced works which, unless I am greatly 
mistaken, will live as long as fiction is read. Nor do I think 
that, great as was the gift of imagination which she possessed, 
she could ever, her moral qualities being such as I have 
described, have allowed it to stray beyond the limits which they 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 335 

imposed upon it. Further acquaintance with her only deepened 
this conviction. 

"Among the points of her character which always much 
impressed me, her high sense of duty stood out foremost, and 
stands so still in my remembrance. It imparted a substance 
and solidity to the writings which her talents made so powerful 
and attractive ; but it also pervaded her whole character and 
life. Quiet and undemonstrative as she was, one soon 
perceived that she possessed a singularly clear and inde- 
pendent judgment on which she invariably acted without any 
reference to what others might say or think ; for no one was 
less in bondage to outside opinion than she was. She formed 
her opinions, and acted on them, as I believe, from a deep 
sense of responsibility to God, and a certainty that such 
opinions came ultimately from Him. It may have been 
thought that these opinions were sometimes mere prejudices, 
and it is not for me to say that she was never mistaken in an 
estimate she had formed of a person or an action ; but that 
estimate was never capricious, but deliberately arrived at from 
reasons which satisfied her own mind, and the conclusions thus 
established were never, so far as I recollect, altered in one 
single instance. She expressed what she thought, clearly and 
incisively, but seldom if ever argued. 

" Her kindness — the term is rather tame, but I can think of 
none more suitable — was a very conspicuous feature of her 
character. It was shown in many ways, great and small ; in 
the steadfastness of her friendship, in her helpfulness where 
help was needed, in her charity to the needy in a lower station, 
the sick and suffering poor ; and in those small but not less 



336 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

real proofs of it, the kindly welcome, sincere though never 
effusive, the generous hospitality, the consideration for your 
comfort, even in trifles, which made her house to me, at least, 
a home for twenty years. 

"Her kindness was equalled by her sympathy. I think, 
nay, I am sure, that I scarcely ever met with any one to whom 
I could confide my difficulties or communicate my successes, 
however small either may have been, with so great a certainty 
of true appreciation and hearty encouragement. In that 
respect she was one of the truest friends I ever had. 

" Had her kindness and sympathy been less than they were, 
I think it possible that her sense of duty, her innate truthful- 
ness, and her habit of carefully weighing people and things, 
would have made her severe in her judgment and expressions ; 
but in point of fact it was the reverse with her, and the impres- 
sion she has left upon my mind is of one possessing great toler- 
ance of others, and from whom I never heard a harsh or uncharit- 
able opinion. Ill-nature was as foreign to her words as it was 
to her deeds. She possessed a great reverence, but only for 
what was worthy of it ; emphatically giving every one his due. 
Honour to whom honour. Yet she would never, I might say 
could never, have condoned what she deemed wrong in any 
one, be his or her station what it might ; nor did she seek a 
position in the world to which her talents and her own personal 
gifts would, had she chosen, have introduced her. Her tastes 
were simple, and lay in another direction — the retirement and 
happiness of domestic life. 

" Her natural reverence was associated with another very 
prominent characteristic — her love of order in the high sense 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 337 

given to it by the poet, that it is * Heaven's first law.' She 
could not tolerate disobedience or want of due respect in any 
one, and assumption or conceit were, 1 think, next to what 
was absolutely wrong, the things most distasteful to her. Some 
might have thought her sometimes to be over-strict in matters 
of small moment, and perhaps a little too exacting now and 
then ; but in fact her nature was so thorough and so consistent, 
that I question if she regarded anything as trifling that had to 
do with duty, whether in a friend, a child, or a domestic. 
Where it was otherwise, she possessed in large measure that 
charity which covereth a multitude of sins in others. Her 
external life was marked by great simplicity, and by no means 
consisted in the abundance of the things which she possessed. 
It rested on what was real and not on what was artificial ; her 
enjoyments were intellectual and social. She had no * hobbies,' 
as they are called, she neither bought pictures nor collected 
* curios,' nor affected sympathy with those who did. She 
loved music and flowers, but books and friends proved her 
chief pleasures, and the great sea of human life that ebbed and 
flowed around was in all its multitudinous aspects, its cares, 
its joys, and its occupations, a never-failing theme of interest. 

" Any description of Mrs. Henry Wood's character would 
be materially incomplete that did not include some mention of 
her domestic and, above all, her religious life. Yet here, for 
obvious reasons, my words must be few. It was impossible 
not to perceive how very close to her mind was her children's 
welfare, and how unceasing was her endeavour to promote it 
by every means in her power, her aim being not only, nor 
perhaps so much, their temporal good, as that they should in 

22 



338 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

all respects grow up in accordance with her own high standard 
of right and duty. Her religious life was uniformly marked 
by the same reality, thoroughness, and yet simplicity which so 
strongly distinguished her in all other respects. In it there 
were both strength and depth, but no noise. 

" In all connected with that important subject she took a 
deep interest. Her own views, coming as they did from 
reflection and conviction, were not only practical but decided. 
Indeed, of all the persons I have known, she was, as it struck 
me, the least likely to be led away by the doctrines of men^ 
however great or learned. Where she had confidence in a 
person's goodness and aptness to teach, she was a very willing 
and attentive listener. She took her views straight from the 
Bible, whose teachings in their fulness she humbly and 
reverently accepted as the guide for herself and others." 

The following reminiscences from Dr. Alexander H. Japp 
may not unfittingly close this chapter : — 

"In the seventies my connection with Good Words and 
the Sunday Magazine brought me into relationship with Mrs. 
Henry Wood. I had occasionally seen Mrs. Wood before 
this through my friendship with her son, but then I saw her 
more frequently, alike on business and in social intercourse, 
being often invited to St. John's Wood Park. The first 
and most lasting impression made on my mind was of a very 
still, sweet presence, in whose atmosphere no discord could 
dwell. She looked at once very firm and very amiable — a 
mixture which in her was tempered by the outflow of ready 
and unaffected sympathy. Quietude, with an air of great sin- 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 339 

cerity, and a repose which had in it nothing of self-satisfaction, 
or indifference to any feeHng or emotion in others. She was 
thus essentially good-mannered — a lady in the truest sense of 
the word, who had the art — not always a part of so-called good 
manners — of setting you at once and completely at your ease. 
I remember, on the first occasion of my dining at her house, 
a certain tremor in the sense of being for the first time brought 
into close contact with the great novelist, which was perhaps 
natural and excusable in me ; but it vanished the moment I 
had exchanged a few words with her, and had answered some 
unexpected kindly questions about my children, and their 
characters and ways ; about their education, and so on ; and, 
in fact, before I had been beside her half an hour, the great 
novelist was forgotten, and only the gracious and sympathetic 
woman was before me. 

" Another thing that much impressed me at an early stage 
of my acquaintance with her was a very uncommon mixture of 
tact — that seemed natural to her — and ready, quick interest. 
She was not only keen to hear all about what her sons were 
interested in and concerned with, but also about their friends 
and their concerns. In a gentle way she drew every one out, 
without obtruding herself at all. There was no fussiness, 
nothing of the busy-body, but a healthy, natural, graceful, easy 
expression of interest that was prevailing, though in no way 
boldly asserted. Her whole appearance and expression be- 
tokened gentleness, but gentleness with possibilities of great 
firmness of will behind it where it was needful td exercise it — 
like Wordsworth's Margaret, * a woman of a steady mind.' She 

was slight of stature, but with a very graceful carriage of the 

22 a 



340 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

head, and the kind of figure that looks taller than it really is 
from moving lightly, and with an airy ease : intellectual without 
affectation, and refined while still in the best sense domesti- 
cated and approachable. 

" She was not much inchned to discuss her own novels ; but 
I remember well on one occasion when I was at her house, and 
Miss Hesba Stretton and Miss Anne Beale were there, her 
readiness to speak of the points in their works which had been 
interesting to her, and which she had derived pleasure from. 
She was, with regard to the works of others, at once keen and 
generous in judgment. 

" One of the things about which I had to talk with her 
was the touching story of * Bessy Wells,' a story of low life 
in London, which appeared in the pages of the Sunday 
Magazine, I had already seen a good bit in the way of 
visiting low quarters of London, alike in the purlieus of 
Drury Lane, Old Kent Road, Deptford, RatclifTe Highway, 
and other parts, and her interest in the little details which I 
could communicate to her was very great indeed. It is 
astonishing how keen her curiosities were in these matters, 
and how absolutely, by force of imagination and sympathy, 
she had realised the whole condition and scope of that life ; so 
that few suggestions needed to be given her in regard to 
* Bessy Wells,' compared with what it has been my lot to 
have to tender to writers of fiction alike as regards the circum- 
stances of the poor, prisons, reformatories, etc. Her realising 
power is scarcely anywhere more marked than in this little 
story, which in this respect has a value of its own, though it 
does not of course aim at the kind of interest which obtains in 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 341 

her novels proper. But it shows her especially as the inter- 
ested inquirer into social conditions, and into the means by 
which the sufferings of the poor and fallen might be lessened 
or removed. 

"Though with none of the affectations of the Society 
woman, she was a very racy talker, and apt at finding the 
available meeting -point in another, due in degree to her 
quick sympathy, in degree to her insight and natural tact. 
And it may be added that, although she was averse to dis- 
cussing her own books, she would very readily discuss the 
knotty points in a plot, or listen to a difficulty that had 
arisen in a complicated law-case, or the solution that had been 
brought to some exciting mystery in real life. Her quiet and 
unobtrusive largeness of interest was one of the most notice- 
able things about her. It was seen in her ways with her 
children ; in her happy art in finding unmistakably the 
interests of others and in answering to them ; and to this 
perhaps was due in great degree her splendid memory, from 
which anything that had touched or deeply impressed her 
was really never effaced. The secret too, perhaps, of her 
success in pictures of boy-character. 

"Whatever subject came on the iapis^ she was apt to 
throw new light upon it. How gently came her suggestive 
words, how sufficing the reasons with which on occasion she 
could back up the position she took ! And she had a great 
art in stating a case. Even if this was no more than the im- 
pression that certain words or acts must have on the mind of 
another person, she had the gift of making it clear, and by 
this gift was able to serve others very materially. 



343 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

" I can clearly see her once more as I write, her fine, ex- 
pTessive countenance lit up as she bends forward a little in her 
chair, gently to suggest some new view or point that had been 
left out of count, as with her right hand she throws back her 
cap-string, and then quietly extends her hand towards you ; and 
the smile that accompanies the action is the finest commentary 
on the words and on her kindly intents. I could add more were 
I near papers and letters which are unfortunately at a distance ; 
but these few paragraphs will perhaps suffice to attest the 
abiding impression made on me of gentleness, resolution, 
grace, elevation of character, large sympathy and disinterested- 
ness which I carried away with me from those visits I paid to 
Mrs. Wood at St. John's Wood Park, the recollection of which 
I cherish." 




CHAPTER XXVII 



" That God, which ever lives and loves. 
One God, one law, one element. 
And one fer-off divine event, 
To which the whole creaiioo moves." 




These letters and 
records out of an im- 
mense number re- 
ceived, all strike the 
same keynote, show- 
ing that Mrs. Henry 
Wood's influence ex- 
tended almost as a 



mesmeric 



atm 



sphere to friends 
and strangers alike, 
all instinctively re- 
ct^ising the beauty 
and charm of her 

South Aisle, WoRCksiKK. nature. 

Her life was lived in the calmest and most gentle 
has been said that religion was seldom 



344 MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 

mentioned by her, as too sacred to be made the topic of 
conversation. On rare occasions, when it became her duty 
to speak, her words were few, but impressive with the rare 
power of conviction. In the earlier years of training, she 
never wearied even her children with lengthened sittings and 
difficult tasks, but she never omitted to have them with her for 
a few minutes morning after morning, year after year ; and if 
the earnest tones failed in their mission, no earthly power 
could avail. 

It is right to insist upon this, the highest and best of her 
many gifts; especially in these days when thoughts and opinions 
are changing ; and because it has too often been the case that 
the higher spiritual graces have not accompanied great powers 
of the imagination. 

It was also the unobtrusiveness of that spiritual life which 
gave it such prevailing influence, conquering by the force 
of example alone. She was followed, but she never com- 
manded or dictated. Yet we possess letters from great men 
declaring that her influence upon them will be undying ; and 
this is no mere form of words. 

An intimate friend and learned divine was wont to say : 
" Whatever of greatness, or beauty, or charm there is in Mrs. 
Henry Wood's heroines, she herself infinitely surpasses them 
all." And again he would add: "She had persuaded him 
into the belief that, as there had been religious inspiration in 
the past, so there was secular inspiration in the present." This 
was the opinion of one who had seen more of the world and 
human nature than most of his kind. 

In the sense of a void neither time nor change can 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 345 

ever fill again, all praise falls cold, lifeless and unworthy. It 
may seem to some that her charms and virtues have been 
exaggerated. It is indeed difficult, even after many years of 
silence and separation, to write calmly and dispassionately, but 
this only proves how great was her power, how abiding her 
influence. There still exists a "cloud of witnesses" who 
would testify to this truth. 

She had once delighted in Martin's Plains of Heaven^ it 
was so like the realms that had ever haunted her dreams; 
and to those Plains where flows the pure River of the 
Water of Life, her spirit must have taken its flight, in Ways 
of Pleasantness and in Paths of Peace. And there she 
must be sought by those to whom in this life she was 
beyond price, and for whom her true and loyal heart beat 
with the pulses of the most fervent though silent thought, 
affection, and devotion. 

It is singular that the title of the very last Johnny Ludlow 
story was Silent for Ever; and this thought concluded the 
paper. As she did so, she looked up to one who happened 
to be in the room, and said with a wistful expression never to 
be forgotten : " My work is almost done. It is certain that I 
shall never write much more." Again the words were sadly 
prophetic, for though her last illness had not then commenced, 
she had for ever laid down her pen. 

Silent for ever in this world it may be, but throughout 
eternity rejoicing evermore. She had once remarked that 
if we were permitted to continue our occupations in the next 
world, nothing would give her greater pleasure than to go on 
writing books for ever. How that may be cannot be told, 



346 



MEMORIALS OF MRS. HENRY WOOD 



since we have no revelation ; and SO best, without doubt. 
Sufficient the promise that "in that Fair Land where our 
hearts abide" failures and unfulfilled desires will be lost in 
the realisation of all true hopes and aspirations. 

Such, then, was Mrs. Henry Wood, so great the loss to those 
she left behind. The last chapter of Proverbs is true to her 
in all points : " Her price is &r above rubies. . . . The heart 
of her husband doth safely trust in her. . . . She girdeth 
her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms, . . . 
Strength and honour are her clothing, and she shall rejoice 
in time to come. . . . She openeth her mouth with wisdom, 
and in her tongue is the law of kindness. . . . Give her of 
the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the 
gates. . . . 

" Her children arise up, and call her blessed." 




idty R. Kl K. Clabk, EdMu'ih,